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Family history

Family history and cardiovascular disease

If a first-degree male relative (e.g. father, brother) has suffered a heart attack before the age of 55, or if a first-degree female relative has suffered one before the age of 65, you are at greater risk of developing heart disease.

If both parents have suffered from heart disease before the age of 55, your risk of developing heart disease can rise to 50% compared to the general population. However, you can protect yourself by taking care of your heart, as the development of cardiovascular disease involves many different factors, not just your family history.

Your chance of having a stroke is increased if first-degree relatives have had strokes. If they were young when they had their stroke, then the risk is slightly higher.  Studies have shown that the risk increases if you are a woman and your mother has suffered a stroke.

Studies have shown a genetic component for both hypertension and abnormal blood lipids, factors related to the development of cardiovascular disease.

One of the inherited factors is high cholesterol level, known as familial hypercholesterolemia.  If you have inherited this condition then you will experience a build up of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in the blood. This can lead to coronary heart disease.

Type 2 diabetes also has a genetic component, so if one of your parents developed the condition you are at greater risk of developing it too.  Type 2 diabetes is another risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease.

In the case of stroke, it is believed that inheriting hypertension is a key factor in the familial link of ischemic stroke.