What To Do If Heart Disease Runs in Your Family

By: Bonnie Vitti Lynch

When it comes to your heart health, knowing your family history can be every bit as important as a diagnosis from a cardiovascular specialist or your primary care physician. Having your family history on hand can help you know the risk factors and help you prevent coronary artery disease and heart disease.

Knowing is the First Step

Being proactive is key to reducing those risks. Early detection and risk modification, especially at a younger age, can help prevent coronary heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke. But realize it is never too late to make important changes for your cardiovascular health.

Ideally, once you have your family health history in hand, you should come in for a consultation with VCS. We can perform a series of screenings including lab work and cardiovascular testing to determine if you may have peripheral arterial disease and coronary calcification.  Some patients may take a stress test to evaluate functional capacity, check irregular heartbeats, and abnormalities with EKG imaging.

Many patients can get started on proper medical therapy once screening is complete.

Other Steps You Can Take

Heart health goes beyond family history. Lifestyle factors can be challenging so the patient's medical social history is just as important as family history. Fortunately, there are a number of steps you can take to improve your heart health and reduce your risks:

  • If you smoke, stop smoking now.
  • Make sure your blood pressure is normal, if not, lifestyle changes and/or medical therapy may be indicated.
  • Avoid excess alcohol consumption.
  • Because obesity can cause problems with heart health, talk to your doctor or specialist about a medically supervised weight loss program like Ideal Protein. Such a program can be more effective with the help and support of trained professionals.
  • Even at a health weight, proper diet can decrease risk of cardiovascular events.
  • Get the proper screenings for you.  A lipid panel will assess cholesterol. Based on your numbers excercise and medication can be indicated.
  • Aim for thirty minutes of cardiovascular excercise a day.  Be sure to have any symptoms (such as chest pains) looked at by a doctor before bdginning an  excercise regimen.

If you have questions about the impact family history can have on your heart health, or want to make an appointment with a specialist, contact Virginia Cardiovascular Specialists today.


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