Recent Blog Articles

Heart Attack

Do premature heart attacks run in your family?

June 1, 2017

If so, be extra vigilant about measuring and managing your blood pressure and cholesterol.

h0617e16207255568767Filling out those family history forms at the doctor's office can be tedious. But sometimes, the devil is in those details. Because heart disease is so common, many people check "yes" to the question about whether their father or mother had heart disease. But if your father had a heart attack at age 77, that's likely different than if his heart attack happened when he was only 44.

"If you have any family history of heart disease, that should serve as a keen reminder to pay attention to factors that can raise your risk of a heart attack, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes," says Dr. Howard Sesso, an epidemiologist with the division of preventive medicine at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. But if a parent or sibling had a premature heart attack, that's an even stronger signal to be more proactive in monitoring and lowering your risk, he adds. A premature or early heart attack is one that occurs before age 55 in a man or before age 65 in a woman.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.