If you have a relative who died of heart disease before age 60, your own risk of early heart trouble is higher as well, a study involving millions of people in Denmark over three decades has determined.
Family history of premature heart disease has long been considered a risk factor for heart problems in future generations, and the new study, which appeared in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, strengthens this evidence.
Researchers found that people with a parent or sibling who died young of heart problems were roughly twice as likely as others to be diagnosed with coronary heart disease - where "plaques" build up in the heart arteries, raising the risk of heart attack before age 50.
They also had double the risk of suffering a ventricular arrhythmia, an often fatal rhythm disturbance in the heart's main pumping chamber.
"As with other chronic diseases, people should try to find out what they can about their family history," said Mattis Flyvholm Ranthe, the lead researcher on the study, in an email.
Researchers at the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen combed through public health data on almost four million Danish citizens born after 1949.
Between 1978 and 2008, almost 130,000 of them were diagnosed with some form of cardiovascular disease before age 50. Those odds were heightened when a first-degree relative had died of heart problems before hitting 60.
But those risks also were elevated when a second-degree relative, such as a grandparent or half-sibling, had died young. The risk of coronary disease, for example, was 43 percent higher in people with one second-degree relative who had died before age 60.
"This study tells us that a grandparent's history is meaningful too," said Amit Khera, who directs the preventative cardiology program at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
The more relatives who died young, the greater the risk. When two or more first-degree relatives died of heart problems before age 60, a person's own risk of early heart disease rose five-fold.
It's not fully clear how much of a difference that lifestyle changes or medication for high blood pressure or cholesterol can make for people with heart disease in their family, but it's known that those steps help curb heart risk in general.
"There's no reason to suspect that preventive measures wouldn't apply to these folks as well," Khera said. SOURCE: bit.ly/PEP18s
Students in a private Australian high school have recreated a malaria drug in the school laboratory
2 studies claim psilocybin, outlawed by federal government, could significantly improve patients’ mood
Global crises changing nature of hotel industry, expert warns Mediterranean Week of Economic Leaders conference
Fighting climate change means different things in different cities, as this snapshot illustrates:
The Paris deal, now in force, calls for capping global warming at two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, and at 1.5 C (2.7 F) if possible.
British MPs voted in February to allow the creation of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) babies with DNA from three people.
The H5N6 virus was first confirmed on November 18 at a farm in central South Korea and it has since spread to farms around the country, with the total number of cases now standing at 46.
It is one of the biggest clinical trials involving the disease ever undertaken and has revived hopes in the scientific community of a breakthrough in the battle against AIDS.
Nuclear energy: who's advancing and who's retreating
A killer bird flu that is sweeping Europe has forced Sweden to cull more than 200,000 chickens
Study finds blood of old mice makes young mice feeble; scientists hope to discover more in human trials soon
Drug overdoses are now killing more Americans than car crashes, putting the sheer scale of the crisis into perspective.
The idea of clean air, potable water and healthy food free from heavy metals, pesticides, and other pollutants as a human right emerged in the mid-1970s.
60 percent of all Kenyans have never been tested for disease, says report
Average temperatures for the year were set to hit about 1.2 Celsius (2.16 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels -- meaning that 16 of the 17 hottest years on record were this century, said the UN's World Meteorological Organization (WMO).