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Heart Health

Dinner Table Has More than Just Food to Offer for Heart Health

Your family dinner table could have more to offer for heart health than just a selection of grains, fruits and vegetables. Those sitting around the table might be able to provide the most heart health benefits of all - in the form of a family history.

There is power in knowing your family's medical history. Though there is no way to predict with certainty what the future holds, there are definite risk factors that can be identified by looking at traits across generations.

The "red flags" in a family history that could indicate a high risk for heart disease include:

If your family history indicates that you may be at high risk for heart disease, a genetic counselor can work with your physician, and potentially a cardiologist, to emphasize primary prevention through lifestyle, diet, exercise, and possibly medication.

Patients known to be affected by a heart condition and their families can receive genetic testing and counseling services, and potentially genetic testing, that include detailed family histories, blood draws and analysis, results discussions with counselors, and referrals to appropriate health care providers for additional assessments and treatment.

It is important to remember that gene mutations that are identified through genetic testing don't spell a 100 percent chance of developing a given disease, but instead indicate increased risk.

Learning one's own family history has become a point of focus among heart disease experts because nearly one in three people in the United States has an increased risk for heart disease based on their family history but may not know it.

You need to know your family history. It's easy. All it takes is talking to family members. And it's the best way to really protect yourself as well as protect your future.

More Information:

Sample Family History Chart
Watch Video
Find a Genetic Counselor Near You

This article is based on information provided by The Ohio State University Medical Center Media Relations Office and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission.

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Last Reviewed: Apr 05, 2011

Amy Curry Sturm, MS, LGC Amy Curry Sturm, MS, LGC
Associate Professor of Human Genetics
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University