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
According to the World Health Organization, more than 80,000 children in Pakistan have not been immunized against polio
A total of 5,459 people have died in the worst Ebola outbreak on record, according the World Health Organization
Plague, a bacterial disease, is mainly spread from one rodent to another by fleas.
Felix Baez Sarria, the first Cuban to contract the deadly disease, will be treated in a Geneva hospital.
No Ebola cases detected for two incubation periods, says World Health Organization
The World Health Organization and leading global health specialists have criticised Saudi Arabia for failing to properly investigate the causes of MERS.
UNICEF predicts that the number of children orphaned by Ebola – which currently stands at nearly 200 – will reach as many as 2,000
UN Article 82 could mean millions in additional costs for drilling companies.
The figures, through Nov. 16, represent a jump of 243 deaths and 732 cases since those issued last Friday, and cases continue to be under-reported, the WHO said in its latest update.
The infectious disease causes total paralysis in a matter of hours. It affects mainly children under five years of age.
The 30-year-old woman was from the province of Minya, south of Cairo. She died in a hospital in the southern city of Assiut
UNAIDS estimated that by June 2014 some 13.6 million people globally had access to antiretroviral medicines - a dramatic improvement on the 5 million who were getting treatment in 2010.
The H5N8 form of the virus has hit a Dutch chicken farm and a German turkey farm and is suspected - but not yet confirmed - as the strain that infected ducks on a British farm.
'Hidden childhood killer' drowning is among the ten leading causes of child and youth deaths, according to WHO's first global report on drowning.
More than 20 species of starfish, also called sea stars, from southern Alaska to Baja California are dying from a wasting disease
Japan has long maintained that most whale species are not endangered and that eating whale is a cherished part of its food culture