Genetics play a role in your risk for heart disease. Tim McDermott, M.D., at Lake Regional Cardiology, said the best way to know your risk is to talk to your immediate family.
"It's not necessary to get out the entire family tree," Dr. McDermott said. "Knowing your mother's and father's history is most important."
According to Dr. McDermott, a board-certified interventional cardiologist, if both parents had heart disease, your genetic risk for developing heart disease is high. If one parent had heart disease, your genetic risk is around 50 percent.
"This is true for heart attack and stroke risk, as well as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol," Dr. McDermott said. "Tracking these risk factors early can help ensure they don't develop into something more serious."
Knowing your siblings have had cardiovascular problems can help you evaluate your risk, as well.
"If your siblings have had these problems, especially early in life, it's important to tell your physician," Dr. McDermott said.
A family history of heart disease doesn't mean you're doomed. Dr. McDermott said patients with genetic risk factors still can make healthy choices that help lower their risk.
"It's important to start eating right and exercising frequently at an early age," Dr. McDermott said. "Your lifespan is not necessarily confined to your genes."
And if you or your spouse have had a heart attack or stroke, he suggests talking to your children about their risk.
"It's never too early to encourage your kids to make healthy choices and model a healthy lifestyle," Dr. McDermott said. "What you buy at the grocery store and how you spend your free time will affect your children's habits."
Setting a good example of a heart healthy lifestyle for your children may be just as important as their genes. Some researchers say the statistics about parents' heart disease and their children is strengthened not only because of genes, but because children pick up the diet and exercise behaviors of their parents.
"If you cook a heart healthy diet for your children and your family gets outside and exercises together, you're helping lower your risk and theirs," Dr. McDermott said. "Or, if a family is sedentary and eats a diet high in saturated fat and sodium, it's no surprise that everyone in that family might develop heart disease."
To schedule an appointment with Dr. McDermott at Lake Regional Cardiology, call 573-302-3950. To view his bio, visit lakeregional.com/physicians.
Meet Dr. McDermott
Cardiologist Tim McDermott, M.D., will host an open house 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22. His clinic, Lake Regional Cardiology, is located at 1193 State Road KK in Osage Beach. New and former patients are invited to attend to meet Dr. McDermott, ask questions or schedule appointments. Refreshments will be provided.