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Friday, November 6, 2015

Holiday Health Tip Sheet: Family history and heart disease

INDIANAPOLIS – We’re on the cusp of the Thanksgiving season and poised for family gatherings and meals. It also provides an opportunity for families to take stock of their heart health.

Learning your family health history can help you identify your risk of developing heart and vascular disease and stroke. Knowing the risk can minimize the potential of heart attacks and conditions such as heart valve disease. Testing further reduces such risks.

Physicians and staff at Franciscan St. Francis Heart Center offer some tips on what information family members may glean from one another during the holidays:

·        Get health information from your mother, father, sister, brother
·        If relatives have had a heart attack or stroke, how old were they? (if your father or brother were younger than 55 years old or your mother or sister were younger than 65, your risk is higher)
·        Who in the family has high cholesterol, high blood pressure?
·        Does diabetes run in the family?
·        Have your parents had surgery for heart valve disease?
·        Does any family member have peripheral arterial disease (bad circulation in the legs), aneurysms or blocked carotid arteries?  These are all signs of cardiovascular disease.

You can’t change your family, but there are other controllable risk factors to be considered, physicians say.
  • Don’t smoke
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise 30 - 60 minutes, five days a week,  or simply increase your activity level
  • Control blood pressure (less than 120/80)
  • Control cholesterol levels
·        Control blood sugar if you are diabetic