How Much Do Genetics Affect Your Heart Health?
It is well-known that heart health is affected by many different factors, from diet and exercise, to lifestyle and family history. Although a history of cardiovascular problems in your family is a risk factor, it is still not completely understood how your genetics impact your heart. However, there is new research that is beginning to unveil how codes in DNA sequence can indicate higher risks for heart health issues.
Calculating DNA Heart Risk Factors
In September 2017, Harvard Medical School published information on new research on DNA and heart health. Researchers have found 67 variants in the DNA sequence that are linked to cardiovascular health, particularly heart attack risk. These variants are genetically passed down through families, which is why family medical history is important in determining your risk levels for heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases. Each variant is thought to possibly increase the risk of heart disease by 10%.
In a study at Massachusetts General Hospital, researchers used 57 of the 67 variants to create a scoring chart for DNA heart disease risk factors. Of the 9,500 participants in the study, one of five people had DNA that suggested a high risk for heart disease, or a 60% higher risk. These variants included impacts to cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes, as well as other factors. Although the DNA mapping for heart disease risks is still in the research stage, there are many innovations that are improving the way the medical community can help prevent and treat cardiovascular problems. Plus, early research showed that medications like statins can help lower risk for those with DNA variants for high cholesterol and heart disease.
Even without DNA testing, if you have a history of strokes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attacks or cardiovascular disease in your family, it is a good reason to take precautionary measures to protect your heart health. Consulting with a cardiologist can help you stay on top of your heart health to reduce your risk factors.
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