Family history key to heart health
Family history is one of the strongest predictors of heart disease, according to an expert.
“If you look at how heart disease occurs, about 80 percent takes place in people with a strong family history,” said University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Department of Epidemiology Professor and Chair Donna Arnett.
Arnett, who is serving as the president of the American Heart Association (AHA), said this message goes hand in hand with following the AHA’s “Life’s Simple 7”: getting active, controlling cholesterol, eating better, managing blood pressure, losing weight, reducing blood sugar and quitting smoking.
“Though we know those seven major factors, we still don’t completely know all of the causes of heart disease. But with a family history, even in the absence of those risk factors, heart disease is still possible. It’s important to know family history,” Arnett said.
She added that for people who are adopted or have no way of knowing their family’s history of heart health, it becomes even more important they monitor their numbers by visiting a doctor and having necessary screenings.
Arnett noted that heart disease is the number-one killer of women.
“It’s not a man’s disease or woman’s disease; it’s a person’s disease,” she said.
“The signs of a heart attack can be different than typical chest pain in the center of your chest. If you’re experiencing something that makes you feel ‘off,’ whether it be extreme fatigue, shortness of breath or pain in the upper body, back or neck, go and have it checked out,” she suggested.