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Coronary heart disease: Biggest risk is your genes

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Evidence from researchers now suggests coronary heart disease is mostly driven by genes, not lifestyle factors within families. That doesn't mean it's alright to adopt an unhealthy diet and stop exercising, however.

Instead, the finding from Swedish researchers shows just how strong hereditary factors are for determining the risk of heart disease. Some studies suggest unhealthy family lifestyle is more the culprit.

Genes are a major player in heart disease

Scientists have known heredity plays a major role for developing heart disease. The new study sought to see how much behaviors within families might also be contributing.

The new study, which comes from Center for Primary Health Care Research in Sweden, published in the American Heart Journal, shows that genes seem to be the most important contributor for developing coronary artery disease.

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The study, led by Professor Kristina Sundquist, looked at heart disease incidence among 80 214 adopted men and women.

All of the participants were born in 1932 or later and developed heart problems between 1973 and 2008.

Researchers found the chance of coronary heart disease was 40 to 60 percent higher if one biological family member of the study participants had heart disease.

“The results of our studies suggest that the risk of coronary heart disease is not transferred via an unhealthy lifestyle in the family, but rather via the genes,” says Kristina Sundquist.

There was no higher chance of heart disease for children whose adoptive parents, one or both, had cardiovascular disease, showing that genes is a primary contributor to coronary artery disease that supersedes lifestyle factors.

Source: Lund University