How Genetics Plays a Role in Your Heart Health

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September 29th is World Heart Day. Created by the World Heart Federation, it’s a day that aims to raise global awareness around Cardiovascular disease (CVD), which includes heart disease and strokes. Cardiovascular disease is responsible for nearly half of all noncommunicable diseases deaths making it the world’s number one killer. Therefore, World Heart Day is an opportunity for us to consider not just our current heart health but what role genetics may play in predicting if we have any propensity for heart disease or stroke in the future.

The Basics of Family History and Genetics

When you think of your health, your first thought may not be of your family, but family members not only pass traits like eye color and height down from one generation to the next; they also share the same genes. Knowing your heritage will help you know if you may have genetic factors that influence your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke or other risks. While you can’t change your genes, if you know you may have probability of heart disease in your future, making certain lifestyle choices like not smoking, eating a healthy diet and exercising could help minimize your chances.

The Basics of Heart Disease

According to the CDC, approximately 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year and 1 in 100 individuals carries a severe genetic heart defect. When you consider that is about 1 in every 4 deaths, it makes taking a moment to consider your heart health worth it. This is one of the goals of World Heart Day.

When it comes to gender, heart disease does not discriminate. However, factors like age and race are factors to be aware of. The risk of heart disease does increase the older you get. In terms of race, in 2013, there was a study done by the CDC that showed heart disease was the leading cause of death in the United States for non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, and American Indians. For Hispanics, and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, heart disease is second only to cancer.

The Genetics of Heart Disease

In the past decade, there have been tremendous strides made to understand the genetics and mutations that can impact heart disease. Whether it's cardiovascular disease or congenital heart defect; these are all issues that can be linked to our family genetics.

There are 115 Genes in particular that can cause Cardiovascular Disease or Sudden Death that our PhosphorusONE test looks at:

  • Cardiomyopathies & arrhythmias

  • Hereditary cholesterol disorders

  • Hypertension & vascular disorders

  • Aortopathies

Actions to Take if Heart Disease is in Your Genetics

At Phosphorus, we offer the opportunity to speak to a Board Certified Genetic Counselor. This is a complimentary service to better help you understand your results and risk. 

You can then take the conversation you had with our Genetic Counselor and schedule an appointment with your primary care physician to discuss ways to modify your current lifestyle to reduce your risk or, if necessary, find optimal medications to treat any symptoms you may be experiencing. You may also want to consider consulting with a cardiologist.

There are also many groups and online resources you can turn to for support and/or information such as the American Heart Association.

 For now, in honor of World Heart Day, we encourage to be proactive about your health and learn more about how we can help with PhosphorusONE. Click here to learn more!