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Family History and Heart Disease
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Family history is one of the leading risk factors for heart disease. By knowing your family history of heart disease and sharing it with your healthcare provider, you can take the right measures to stay healthy and decrease your risk of heart disease as you age.

The most important aspect of your family history of heart disease is finding out if any members of your immediate family -- your brothers, sisters, parents and grandparents -- have or had heart disease in their lifetime, and how old they were when they developed heart disease. Generations beyond grandparents did not have access to the same medical treatments that we have today, and they lived in a much different environment, so it isn't as important to find out if they had heart disease. If you have time to do research beyond your immediate family, find out if your extended family -- cousins, uncles, aunts -- have or had heart disease.

By knowing your family history of heart disease, your healthcare provider can help you make lifestyle changes to decrease your risk of heart disease, such as exercising, decreasing your stress level, adopting a healthy diet, and avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol. Knowing your family history will also help your healthcare provider administer the proper diagnostic tests, including blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol screenings, and prescribe the appropriate treatment to help you manage your heart disease risk factors.  

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WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) patient advocacy organization with thousands of members nationwide, including women heart patients and their families, health care providers, advocates and consumers committed to helping women live longer, healthier lives. WomenHeart supports, educates and advocates on behalf of the nearly 48 million American women living with or at risk of heart disease. Our programs are made possible by donations, grants and corporate partnerships.

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WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is a founding partner of The Heart Truth Red Dress campaign. The Heart Truth and Red Dress are trademarks of HHS.