Heart Disease & Heart Failure
Genetics and Heart Disease
There are many traits that are passed down from parents to their children. Common traits include eye color, hair color, and blood type. But did you know that heart disease can also be passed down genetically? Below are three common heart conditions that can be inherited:
- Familial Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is a common heart condition that can thicken part or all of the heart muscle. The thickening usually happens in the wall, called the interventricular septum, which separates the left and right ventricles. This can lead to lead to improper blood flow and inefficient pumping of the heart. Symptoms of this condition vary but may include chest pain, shortness of breath, or heart palpitations. Some people may not experience any symptoms at all. Fortunately, there are treatment options available to help manage this condition.
- Familial Dilated Cardiomyopathy causes the heart muscle to become thin and weak. The affected heart chambers become enlarged, which makes the blood pump less efficiently. This can lead to heart failure. Common symptoms of this heart condition include shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, fatigue, and swelling of the legs and abdomen. If you have a family member with this condition, you may want to consider being screened for this condition.
- Familial Hypercholesterolemia is an inherited cause of coronary artery disease. If untreated, plaque can build up in the coronary arteries, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. In adults, according to Penn Medicine, one of the main signs of familial hypercholesterolemia is LDL level above 190 mg/dl. Fortunately, your health care provider may be able to help you manage this condition.
While it’s not possible to control your genetic history, living a heart-healthy lifestyle may lead to a lower risk of heart disease. Eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising regularly, and not using tobacco products may lower your risk for a heart attack or stroke.
- All in the Family: 3 Common Inherited Heart Diseases. https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/heart-and-vascular-blog/2019/january/inherited-heart-diseases
- Know Your Risk for Heart Disease. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/risk_factors.htm