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People with one or more
close relatives who have or had early
coronary artery disease (CAD) are at an increased risk
for CAD. For men, early CAD is being diagnosed before age 55. For women, early CAD is being diagnosed before 65.1
A tendency to develop certain risk
factors, such as
high cholesterol and
high blood pressure, may be related to specific
genes. Genes are passed on from parent to child and
are like the blueprints of the body. They are a code that determines how our
bodies are made and how they function.
lipid disorders can contribute to
atherosclerosis and may lead to early CAD. Although
family-related behaviors also contribute to the risk of developing CAD,
researchers are still working to understand exactly why CAD runs in families.
Behavior or genetics?
addition to inherited factors, there is probably a large environmental
component to the increased risk seen in some families. People who smoke expose
their family members to
secondhand smoke, increasing the risk of heart disease
in their family members. Children of parents who smoke are more likely to smoke
than children of nonsmokers. Dietary habits may also play a role. Families who
eat fatty diets are more likely to develop CAD than those who eat more balanced
Addressing each of these family-related behaviors may
greatly reduce your chance of developing CAD.
Greenland P, et al. (2010). 2010 ACCF/AHA guideline for assessment of cardiovascular risk in asymptomatic adults: A report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 56(25): e50–e103.
April 6, 2012
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
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