Heart Beat: A heartfelt legacy from long-lived parents

Heart Beat

A heartfelt legacy from long-lived parents

Published: June, 2007

If one or both of your parents lived to age 85 or beyond, you may have inherited a genetic gift with a cardiovascular wrapping. According to a report from the Framingham Heart Study, individuals with long-lived parents tend to enter middle age with better blood pressure and cholesterol and fewer other risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Among the 40-somethings in the study, Framingham risk scores (an estimate of cardiovascular risk) were barely one-third as high in those with two long-lived parents as in those with none. Children of one long-lived parent had scores in the middle, suggesting there might be a "dose effect." Over 12 years of follow-up, the gradual escalation of heart disease risk factors was slower in children of one long-lived parent and slowest in those with two.

While other work has connected heredity to longevity, this multigenerational study links some of the effect to early heart protection.

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