Tell your doctor if heart disease runs in the family

Published: July, 2012

Making sure your doctor knows about a family history of heart problems will help to establish your cardiac risk and allow you to take preventive steps, says a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Researchers in England checked to see if including a family history questionnaire improved their ability to identify people at high risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Also known as coronary artery disease, CHD is the narrowing of the blood vessels that supply the heart muscle, which causes chest pain and heart attacks.

The routine calculation of your risk of CHD in the next 10 years takes into account age, sex, tobacco use, cholesterol level, and blood pressure. Having a parent or sibling who developed CHD before age 55 also increases risk. The researchers found that the questionnaire did improve their ability (by about 5%) to identify people at high risk for CHD and may increase the likelihood that they receive preventive care.

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