Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Prevention zeroes in on families of heart disease sufferers

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Earlier this year, my great-aunt passed away suddenly from an unknown heart condition. Her doctor recommended that all of her siblings, children, and nieces and nephews be screened for heart problems as well, flagging them at a higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease. Thankfully, no problems were uncovered, but they are now aware of the higher risk associated with having heart disease in our family.

Scottish researchers believe that if family members of those with known heart disease were singled out as high-risk and their risk factors gotten under control, up to 40% of early deaths from cardiac events could be prevented. Even so, this type of flagging system is rarely used, even though it is common procedure among families with genetic cancers.

So if someone in your family has had some form of heart disease or heart attack, be sure that you know your risks. Talk to your doctor and tackle any problems that increase your chances of developing cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and protect your heart for the long haul.

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