Is heart disease inherited from mother or father?

Can I inherit family ( mother or father ) traits that lead to heart disease?

The most common genetic abnormality that underlies severe heart disease (often called “premature heart disease”), which can occur even in ages as young as thirty years, is a condition where the total blood cholesterol is usually over 300 and the low density cholesterol is over 220. This disorder is called familial hypercholesterolemia, or FH, and occurs in about one in every 400 individuals. FH responds to a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol but most often requires the addition of cholesterol lowering medications for its control. Fortunately there are now many such medications and new ones are being discovered.

The second most common inherited problem is now known as insulin resistance, or IR, a disorder in which the body resists the action of insulin in removing glucose from the blood. Those with IR are susceptible to later developing Type 2 diabetes, especially given the weight gain and decrease in exercise that usually occurs in adulthood. The simplest clue to the presence of IR is a high blood triglyceride level (over about 200). Avoiding weight gain, maintaining good exercise levels, and decreasing consumption of refined sugars and convenience foods made with white flour can do a great deal to counter IR, and even make it undetectable.

Agenetic predisposition to a high level of homocysteine, an amino acid that favors plaque formation and increases the tendency of the blood to clot, can also be inherited.

Keep in mind that people with inherited risk factors can do a great deal to avoid heart attacks and live longer if they improve their risk profile through lifestyle changes.


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