|Some people believe that they are safe from having a heart attack if they maintain a healthy weight and cholesterol levels. However, there are other factors, such as your family history, which may not be as apparent.
“Genetic predisposition accounts for 40-60% of a patient’s risk of getting coronary artery disease,” states Dr. Norbert Moskovits, Director of the Heart Failure Program. If you have several closely-related family members with heart problems, you should be aware that you may be at risk of heart disease. “As of today, there have been 33 genes discovered which put a person at risk for coronary artery disease,” explains Dr. Moskovits. “Out of those 33, eight correlate with higher cholesterol levels and two with hypertension, while the remaining 23 are not associated with any known risk factor.” This means that there are a handful of genetic factors at play that, as of today, cannot be medically addressed. “The hope is that, through future research, more progress will be made to identify these pathways and have new targets to treat.”
So what can you do? “It’s not recommended to test the average patient’s genetic profile since there’s often very little that can be done. Usually, we can only tell a patient that his or her risk is increased – and not specifically address their concerns medically,” states Dr. Moskovits. If you have a family history of heart disease, Dr. Moskovits stresses that it is even more important to make lifestyle changes to ensure heart health. “The best things we as physicians can recommend are aggressive lifestyle modifications – making sure that a person’s weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels are under control, while maintaining a proper diet and exercise routine.”
THE VERDICT: MYTH – If you have a genetic predisposition to heart disease, make sure you’re taking an active role in your health. Talk to your doctor about maintaining a heart healthy diet, and ask if you need more routine tests to monitor your blood pressure or cholesterol.
Dr. Norbert Moskovits
Director, Heart Failure Program
Dr. Norbert Moskovits specializes in cardiology and congestive heart failure. He has been consistently rated among the best doctors in New York by New York Magazine several years in a row.
To make an appointment, call: (718) 283-7948
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