The genes we inherit from our parents are important -not just for our looks or height, but also for our risk of chronic disease. In particular, we know a portion of heart disease can be determined by our genetic risk. At the same time, there is a lot of evidence that our lifestyle can either promote or reduce our risk of illness and/or overall longevity. Heart specialists have long wondered about the relative importance of healthy lifestyle and our predetermined genetic risk. A new study has shed some light on this important topic and given us some guidance on prevention of heart disease (Click here for a link to the full article).
In a nutshell, the researchers found that “bad” genes can double our lifetime risk of heart disease, but a “good” lifestyle can cut the risk in half. Meanwhile, a “bad” lifestyle can erase close to half of the benefits of “good” genes.
Remember, simply having a history of heart problems in her family does not mean you are doomed to develop heart problems yourself. Heart disease is extremely common and is actually the #1 killer of adult men and women in the US. Certainly, if multiple family members have succumbed to heart disease, especially at a relatively young age, then suspicion would be raised about a genetic predisposition. To get specific advice regarding your personal heart risk, you should discuss your specific situation with your doctor or health care provider.
So, while we cannot do much about the looks and height we inherit from our parents, a “heart healthy” lifestyle can certainly undue a lot of the heart risk!
Please follow these links to our other articles for information on heart healthy diet, overview of heart prevention, and the role of exercise.