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Heart Attacks

  : I am a 28 year old female who has some concerns.  My father died of a heart attack in his early 50's.  He has 6 other brothers and sisters and all of them are living yet with no major health problems.  My dad's father died of a stroke in his 60's and his mother died of a heart attack when she was 86.  Another important factor with my father was that he smoked 3 packs of cigarrettes a day.  I don't know any other medical information regarding him.  My concerns are that the same thing is going to happen to me.  I am a healthy individual (at least that's what the doctor's tell me).  I do have high blood pressure, but that was all pregnancy induced so the doctor believes I'll be off medication within the next year.  I am not overweight and I don't eat a lot of red meat.  My downfall is that I will occassionally smoke.  By occassionally smoking I mean once every few months.  My mother is a very healthy person with no health problems what-so-ever.  Her mother is still living at the age of 97.
  : My questions are:  1) Would something like this be considered heart disease in my family?  2)  Since my mom's side of the family lives to such an old age with no health problems, how much of a benefit is this to me?  3) Just because my father had a heart attack, does that mean I will have a higher chance of having one?  4) What's the best way to prevent something like this happening to me?  For the last few years I've had some real problems with this entire situation.  I need to learn that just because it happened to me that it doesn't mean it's going to happen to me!
  : Thank you for any information you may have.
  Also:  From my blood pressure being so high during this last pregnancy, the doctor I see for this (which is a specialist) says he can see damage with the arteries behind my eyes.  He called this First Stage Heart Disease.  Can you explain this all.  From what I gathered from him, it's not heart disease itself, but left uncontrolled it could lead to heart disease?
Dear sk,
The blood vessels in the eyes are very sensitive to high blood pressure an are often the first vessels to show signs of wear.  Be sure to keep regular follow-up with your doctor and keep your blood pressure under control.
I hope you find this information useful.  Information provided in the heart forum is for general purposes only.  Only your physician can provide specific diagnoses and therapies.  Please feel free to write back with additional questions.
If you would like to make an appointment at the Cleveland Clinic Heart Center, please call 1-800-CCF-CARE or inquire online by using the Heart Center website at www.ccf.org/heartcenter.  The Heart Center website contains a directory of the cardiology staff that can be used to select the physician best suited to address your cardiac problem.

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