Family Medical History
Family medical history can be a major indicator of whether or not you will develop heart disease. In other words, if one of your family members has heart disease (or has died from heart disease), you are at increased risk of also developing heart disease. The same is true of other diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and stroke. That is why it's important to know your family medical history.
[Learn more about Heart Disease in our Health Encyclopedia.]
Recording Your Family Medical History
The best way to get information about your family medical history is to talk to your close relatives (parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.). Ask about any family history of heart disease, cancer, diabetes or stroke. If possible, also look at family death certificates.
If you are adopted, contact your state's health and social service agency for help.
Record the information you collect, and share it with your doctor, your siblings and your children.
How Knowing Your Family History Can Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease
If you have a family history of heart disease, there are some things you can do to help lower your risk of developing heart disease. For example, if you are a smoker, you should stop smoking. Eating a heart-healthy diet and exercising regularly are other ways to decrease your heart disease risk.
Eating a Heart-Healthy Diet
A heart-healthy diet is one that is low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium (salt). Your diet should include lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, and whole grain breads, cereals, pasta and rice.
Starting an Exercise Program
Your exercise program should include 2 ½ hours of aerobic exercise each week (spread throughout the week in increments of at least 10 minutes). You should also do strength training 2 times each week. Consult with your doctor before starting an exercise program.
Help with Lifestyle Changes
If you need help with lifestyle changes that can help to reduce your risk of heart disease, talk to your doctor. He or she can help you to quit smoking. Your doctor will also have access to a team of health care professionals at Wake Forest Baptist Health that can help develop a diet and exercise program that's right for you. The team may include heart doctors (cardiologists), nurse specialists, nutritionists, exercise therapists and others.
Request an Appointment with a Heart Center physician today.