Heart disease remains one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Lifestyle and genetic factors play large roles in determining who develops heart problems, so knowing if heart disease is present in your family history can help you take measures to prevent it in yourself and your children. Here’s what to do if heart disease runs in your family so that you and your loved ones can spend as long as possible together.
Prioritize Staying Active
High cholesterol levels can lead to fat deposits inside of blood vessels, making the heart have to work harder to push blood through increasingly smaller veins—and potentially causing a blockage. Cardio exercise is one of the best ways to get the heart pumping, open arteries, and lower cholesterol levels in your body. Incorporating regular exercise into your daily routine substantially lowers your risk of heart disease and keeps your heart healthier later in life as well.
Focus on Heart Health with Your Doctor
If you know you have a family history of heart disease, it’s important to make sure that your health care team is aware of that fact, too. Checkups and physicals always involve some amount of attention to your heart health, but emphasizing your concern about preventing heart disease can lead doctors to pay more careful attention to your heart and potentially pick up on changes earlier on.
Physicians can recommend the proper exercises, diet, and lifestyle changes to help you and your family keep your hearts in the best shape possible. Your doctor can also help you make these lifestyle changes in a way that’s safe for your body and that’s least likely to cause emotional or physical burnout.
Keep Your Children in Mind
Hereditary heart disease can leave people looking to become parents with additional worries and questions. If you’re pregnant or planning to start a family soon, there are steps you can take to help your children both lower their risk of heart disease and be prepared should they receive that diagnosis. Creating healthy habits before or during pregnancy sets you up to become a better role model for your children. Kids learn by imitating their parents, so demonstrating a consistent exercise routine and a positive relationship with healthy foods can be game-changing.
Another option for people concerned about their children being at risk of heart disease is to bank cord tissue right after birth. Keeping the stem cells in umbilical cord tissue can ensure that your child has a match available should they need heart tissue repair or stem cell therapy later in their lives.
Most of the things you should do if heart disease runs in your family are larger lifestyle changes that take time to incorporate into your day-to-day. However, seeking support from your friends, family members, or community groups also looking to prevent heart disease can make progress easier and more rewarding!