Heart disease can be inherited, but none is intended for the fate of parents or grandparents


Better lifestyle choices are difficult, but they can influence heart disease risk and slow heart disease progression.

Many types of heart disease can be passed down through families. Some are caused by one or a few genetic changes which have a very significant effect on the disease. Known as monogenic diseases, they include rare disorders that primarily affect the heart muscle (such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) or the electrical system (such as long QT syndrome).

Another example is familial hypercholesterolemia, which causes very high cholesterol levels and can lead to premature coronary artery disease (occurring before the age of 50). Although the genetic risk cannot be ruled out, scientists have always maintained that good practices and habits can reduce the risk, especially related to premature blockages of the heart arteries.

Various research over the past decade has proven that you are not destined for the fate of parents or grandparents. Better lifestyle choices are difficult, but they can influence the risk of heart disease and slow the progression of heart disease. A 2018 American Heart Association study stated that regular cardio exercise can even outweigh “bad” genetics, whether someone is at high or low risk.

The report concludes that fitness and physical activity show inverse associations with incident cardiovascular disease in the general population, as well as in people at high genetic risk for these diseases. Specifically, high levels of cardiorespiratory fitness were associated with a 49% lower risk of coronary artery disease (obstruction of the heart arteries) and a 60% lower risk of atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) in people at high genetic risk. for these diseases.

In line with the above, besides the obvious no-smoking and no-drink rule, here are some strategies that can help you outsmart your genes by turning off the ones that can cause you problems:

Physical activity: Exercise has been highlighted as a cost-effective strategy for CVD prevention and the most important preventive measure. It improves cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and muscle strength, both of which have been shown to be inversely associated with future cardiovascular events in population-based studies. Regular exercise can provide resistance to your body. Research by the NCBI noticed a reverse genetic fingerprint in men and women over 65 after doing resistance training twice a week for six months.

Eat raw fruits and vegetables: The International Journal of Epidemiology published a study (from 95 studies around the world) in February 2017 that fruits and vegetables contain many healthy nutrients, especially fiber which appears to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. and improve the function of blood vessels. Items that seemed to offer the greatest benefits included apples, pears, oranges and other citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower) and green vegetables and yolks (such as green beans, carrots, and peppers).

Yoga: Dr Gloria Yeh, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School co-authored a 2014 review of clinical research published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology who found that yoga had a significant impact on cardiometabolic risk factors compared to not doing any exercise. For example, yoga lowered total cholesterol by 18.48 mg / dl and triglycerides by 25.89 mg / dl more than the change seen in the control group. Blood pressure also improved. Yoga can help curb the body’s response to stress by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, or the “rest and digestion” system, through deep breathing and relaxation.

Avoid processed junk food – Consumption of junk food is linked to premature heart disease. The saturated fat it contains can increase obesity, the risk of hyperlipidemia, diabetes and high salt content can also increase blood pressure.

Regular checks: Self-monitoring and tracking your own parameters, understanding your own health is always important. Regular check-ups, timely medication are fundamental to better control heart disease and lead you to a happy and healthy life.

The author is a leading cardiovascular thoracic surgeon, VC & MD, Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai.