Home Heart health Does a family history of heart attacks increase your risk?

Does a family history of heart attacks increase your risk?

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Heart attacks are accidents that occur when a blood clot blocks a coronary artery, preventing the correct flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. When this happens, the heart suffers necrosis (cell death). In general, the most common cause of heart attacks is the accumulation of plaque in the arteries, a substance made up mainly of cholesterol. If you want to know the symptoms and causes of heart attack, we invite you to read our article myocardial infarction.

There are certain habits that increase the chances of suffering a heart attack, these are known as risk factors and include high blood cholesterolhypertension, overweight, diabetes, and high blood glucose. But is family history part of these risk factors? Find out in this FastlyHealarticle where we explain if heart attacks are hereditary.

Are heart attacks hereditary?

Heart attacks are the leading cause of death in the world, to the point that the World Health Organization records that 7.6 million people die annually due to this heart complication. Likewise, the WHO explains that the damage that occurs in the blood vessels begins at an early age, when through poor nutrition the arteries begin to form fat deposits, becoming narrower and less flexible.

There are many investigations that have been done to determine if heart attacks are hereditary and until now it has been concluded that this condition is not inherited. However, a family history of myocardial attacks does represent a risk factor, that is, the children of people who have had myocardial attacks are more likely to suffer one. Also, a person is more prone to cardiovascular disease if:

  • Your father or brother had a heart attack before the age of 55.
  • Your mother or sister has had a heart attack after age 65.
  • If the father and mother have had cardiovascular diseases before the age of 55.

However, there are other pathologies such as diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol, which are hereditary and considerably increase the chances of having a heart attack, since these diseases are the first three causes of heart attacks, let’s see why:


Diabetes is associated with altered levels of sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides, a lethal combination that if not controlled openly invites myocardial infarction. In fact, the risk of diabetic people is so high that 50% of those who suffer a heart attack suffer from this disease. But why? Excess sugar in the blood accelerates the narrowing and hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis), which can lead to a heart attack.


The increase in blood pressure makes the arteries more vulnerable, which puts a strain on the heart to function properly and causes this organ to weaken. Eating a low sodium diet, taking the indicated treatment, and measuring blood pressure every day is necessary to keep hypertension under control and avoid a heart attack.

High cholesterol

The accumulation of cholesterol in the blood generates the formation of plaque on the internal walls of the artery, which is the main cause of the formation of clots that prevent the passage of blood and oxygen to the heart, giving rise to a heart attack. In addition, these fats are also the cause of arteriosclerosis.

Although these are the three main causes of heart attacks, there are other factors that can increase the risk and that is worth knowing and solving, especially if we have a family history of heart attacks. Other risk factors for heart attack are:

  • Tobacco use. Tobacco and its smoke contain many substances that damage not only the lungs but also the blood vessels and the heart. The WHO explains that the components of cigarettes occupy the place in the blood of the oxygen that the heart needs to function properly, which, without a doubt, can increase the risk of having a heart attack.
  • Unhealthy diet. A diet based on many calories, sugar, fat, fast food, and few fruits, and vegetables does not cause more complications and is overweight. Excess weight is one of the main causes of diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol, conditions whose relationship with heart attack we explained above.
  • Sedentary. Leading a sedentary life increases cholesterol, and sugar and generates overweight.
  • Chronic stress, irregular heartbeat, metabolic syndrome, and the intake of some medications are also considered risk factors.

As a person meets more risk factors in their physical condition, the greater the probability of having a heart attack. In fact, the WHO assures that the risk is present from two factors.

Do you have a family history of heart attacks?

No problem! If your family has had direct relatives (father, mother, or siblings) who have had a heart attack, what you should do is reduce the least amount of risk factors possible. Since you cannot change your genetics, the key to preventing a heart attack will be to modify your lifestyle; and you can achieve it in the following way:

  • Quit smoking. From the first moment in which the addiction to tobacco is abandoned, the risk of suffering from a heart attack due to cigarette smoking or inhalation of smoke begins to decrease, in the case of passive smokers. If you smoke, you may want to know what happens in your body when you stop smoking.
  • Physical activity. You don’t have to become an athlete, but you do have to do cardiovascular exercise (walking, running, jogging, dancing, cycling) for at least 30 minutes every day. Exercise will allow you to burn fat, lower blood sugar, lower cholesterol, reduce overweight and, in addition, it will increase your physical resistance and allow you to enjoy a healthy heart.
  • Light feeding. It is not about going on a diet or leading a fitness life, it is about maintaining a healthy diet: low in fat, sodium, and sugar, rich in vegetables, lean meats, and good fats. Likewise, the WHO recommends maintaining a moderate consumption of alcohol, since these substances increase cholesterol. Cook your food in the oven, grill, or steam.
  • Go to the doctor. Hypertension is a very silent condition, many people suffer from it and few know it. Getting an annual check-up to confirm that everything is going well with your heart and the rest of your body is vital to prevent heart attacks and treat any risk factors in time.
  • Treat your illnesses. If you are diabetic, suffer from cholesterol, or are hypertensive, it is important that you follow the appropriate treatment to control these pathologies. Remember, keeping your risk factors under control and your health stable is essential to avoiding a heart attack.
  • Manage stress. The hectic pace of life that we lead leads to stress that, together with worries, responsibilities, and accounts payable, can generate a chronic state of anxiety. Controlling stress and anxiety is very important to avoid any type of illness. We recommend you practice meditation, yoga, or any sports activity that you like to improve your emotional state.

Can you recognize a heart attack?

The World Health Organization explains that a severe modality myocardial infarction begins with a very severe pain that squeezes the center of the chest and can be persistent for several minutes or subside and reappear after a few minutes. This discomfort can radiate pain into the arms, left shoulder, elbows, jaw, and back. Similarly, a heart attack can be accompanied by other symptoms such as:

  • Sickness.
  • Threw up.
  • Pallor.
  • Dizziness.
  • Fainting.
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
  • Accelerated palpitations or cardiac arrhythmia.

A heart attack in elderly or diabetic people can be silent and present without any type of chest pain. In women, heart attacks manifest with nausea, jaw pain, shortness of breath, and back discomfort. Anyone experiencing any symptoms of a heart attack should go to the emergency room, as prompt medical attention is the key to preventing a heart attack.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Are heart attacks hereditary? , we recommend that you enter our category of Blood, heart, and circulation.

You may also like

Leave a Comment