Find Out If Heart Disease is a Family Matter


How’s your heart? It’s an important question everyone should consider, especially as you get older.

Why? Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. It claims the lives of an estimated 650,000 people a year. And it might be a family matter.

In fact, if you have a parent, sibling, or grandparent who has heart disease or experienced a heart attack, your risk for both increases.

If one of your first-degree relatives has a heart attack before age 55, your risk goes up 33 percent. If it happens to two or more of your close relatives, your risk goes up by 50 percent.

The sooner you find out if heart disease is a family matter, the sooner you can take action to protect your health.

What about great-grandparents or even further back? Even if they did have heart disease, it doesn’t raise your risk. Lifestyle, environmental issues, medicine, and treatment for heart disease was a lot different 100-plus years ago.

So what can you do to lower your risk for heart disease?

  • Ask your family. Find out if your parents, siblings, or grandparents have heart disease.
  • Make healthy lifestyle choices. This includes eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and lean meats, and legumes, and Low-Sodium foods.
  • Be more active. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise or physical activity per day.
  • Don’t smoke, or quit if you do.
  • Check your blood pressure. It’s an easy way to find out if you’re at risk for heart disease. A normal blood pressure is less than 120/80.
  • Talk to your doctor. If you do have a family history of heart disease and heart attacks, talk to your doctor. Heart disease is largely preventable with smart lifestyle habits, a healthy diet, and regular exercise. But you may need a little extra help to lower your risk if heart disease is a family matter.

Hungry for heart health? Check out the Low-Sodium menu of meals all made from fresh ingredients, and ready to eat in minutes.