Congenital Heart Disease: Many Genes Lead to a Broken Heart



Is There a Heart Disease Gene?

Find out whether you can inherit heart disease and steps you can take now to protect your heart.

By Beth W. Orenstein

Medically Reviewed by Farrokh Sohrabi, MD

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Think that heart disease risk is mostly genetic? You're not alone: A 2013 Cleveland Clinic survey found that many Americans believe that there's a gene that causes heart disease, and that people who have this gene are more likely to get the disease.

While your family history does matter, no “heart disease gene” exists, says the Cleveland Clinic. And even if you do have heart disease in your family, don't throw up your hands and accept it as your fate. There’s a lot you can do to lower your risk — family history or not.

“Genes are important, but what we do to protect ourselves plays a huge role in preventing heart disease,” says Robert Greenfield, MD, co-founder of California Heart Associates in Orange County, Calif., and medical director of noninvasive cardiology and cardiac rehabilitation at MemorialCare Heart &VascularInstituteatOrangeCoastMemorialMedicalCenterinFountainValley.“Yourgenesarethehandyouweredealt,buthowyouplayyourcardscandeterminewhetheryou’regoingtobeawinneroraloser,”Dr.Greenfieldsays.

UnderstandYourHeart

Theheartisamusclethatpumpsbloodtoallpartsofyourbody,andit’satworkeverysecondofyourlife,saysJeffreySchussler,MD,medicaldirectoroftheCardiovascularICUattheBaylorHeartandVascularHospitalinDallasandaprofessorofmedicineatTexasA&MSchoolofMedicine.Itpumpsbloodthroughanetworkofarteries,veins,andcapillaries.Whenfattydeposits(plaque)buildupintheinteriorwallsofyourarteries,theyrestrictthebloodsupplytotheheart,settingthestageforaheartattack.

Other conditionsthataffectbloodflowfromthehearttothebodyincludeirregularheartbeats(arrhythmias)andheartvalveissues.Also,somepeoplearebornwithaheartdefectknownascongenitalheartdisease.

Whileheartdiseasesymptomsmaygoundetectedforsometime,thereissomegoodnews:Wehavemanymethodstopreventandtreattheseproblems,Dr.Schusslersays.

KnowYourRiskFactors

Lifestylechoicescanhaveahugeimpactonyourhearthealth.“Evenpeoplewithafamilyhistoryofheartattackscanreducetheiroverallriskwithhealthyhabits,”saysNiecaGoldberg,MD,medicaldirectoroftheWomen’sHeartProgramattheNYULangoneMedicalCenterinNewYorkCity.

Yourfirststepisbeingawareofyourheartdiseaseriskfactors,Greenfieldsays.Otherthanafamilyhistoryofheartdisease,theseinclude:

  • Highbloodpressure.Normalrestingbloodpressureformostadultsisbelow120/80,accordingtotheAmericanHeartAssociation(AHA).Highbloodpressurecanincreaseyourriskforheartdisease,heartattack,andstroke.Itcancausethemusclesliningyourarterywallstothicken,inturnnarrowingthepathofyourbloodflow.Blockagestotheheartcanleadtoheartattacks,andblockagestothebraincanleadtostrokes.
  • Highcholesterol.Cholesterolisafat-likesubstancecarriedthroughtheblood.ToomuchLDLcholesterol—thebadkind—cancauseplaquetobuildupinyourarteries,increasingyourriskforaheartattack.
  • Diabetes.Atleast65percentofpeoplewithdiabetesdiefromsomeformofheartdiseaseorstroke,accordingtotheAHA.Manypeoplewithtype2diabetesinparticularareobeseandhavehighbloodpressure,highcholesterol,andpoorlycontrolledbloodsugar—allofwhichareriskfactorsforheartdisease.
  • Smoking.Thechemicalsintobaccocandamageyourheartandbloodvessels,accordingtotheNationalHeart,Lung,andBloodInstitute.
  • Beingoverweight.Carryingexcessweight,especiallyaroundthemiddle,strainsyourheart,raisesyourbloodpressureandLDLcholesterol,andlowersyourHDL(good)cholesterol.Thisincreasesyourriskforheartdiseaseaswellasdiabetes.

HowtoPreventHeartDisease

Whenitcomestoheartdiseaseprevention,there’salotyoucando.Toloweryourriskforheartdisease,makethesehealthychangestoyourlifestylenow:

  • Knowyournumbers.Highbloodpressureiscalled“thesilentkiller”becauseitsometimeshasnosymptoms.Manypeopledon'tevenknowtheyhaveit,Greenfieldsays.Tostaysafe,it’simportanttogetcheckedregularly.“Thesedaysyoucanwalkintoapharmacyorgrocerystore,andit’slikelytohaveaunittocheckyourbloodpressure,”Greenfieldsays.Knowyourcholesterollevel,too,especiallyifyouhaveafamilyhistoryofhighcholesterol,hesays.It'smeasuredthroughasimplebloodtestadministeredatyourdoctor’soffice.
  • Eataheart-healthydiet.Youcanloweryourcholesterolbyconsuminglesssaturatedfat(suchaswholedairyandbutter),fewerprocessedmeats(suchassausageandbologna),andfewerhigh-sodiumfoods.Heart-healthymealsmayincludefish,fruit,vegetables,andwholegrains.
  • Getregularexercise.Aimforatleast30minutesofmoderateaerobicexerciseonmostdaysoftheweek.“Thatcouldmeanwalkingatamoderatepaceorgoingdancing,”Goldbergsays.Ifyoudon’thavethatbigablockoftime,workexerciseintoyourdayinchunks—takethestairsratherthantheelevatorandalwaysparkasfarasyoucanfromtheentranceofyourdestination.
  • Quitsmoking.Smokingdramaticallyincreasesyourchancesofdevelopingcardiovasculardisease,Schusslersays.VisitSmokeFree.govforhelpfulresourcesonbecoming—andstaying—anonsmoker.
  • Controlyourdiabetes.Ifyouhavediabetes,it’sessentialtomakehealthyfoodchoices,gettoormaintainahealthyweight,beactiveeveryday,andstayontrackwithtakingyourmedications.Ifyou’rehavingahardtimewithanyaspectofyourdiabetesmanagement,workwithyourdoctortomakesureyourconditionisundercontrol.

Thebestadviceforprotectingyourheartcanbesummedupinfivewords,Greenfieldsays:Eathealthierandmovemore."Thosewordscangoalongwaytoprotectingyoufromheartdisease— and many other conditions," he says.






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Date: 07.12.2018, 21:06 / Views: 31282