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coping with family history

I am a 48 year old female.  I have PACs, PVC's and IST.  I am on 25 mg of Toprol and it seems to help.  I have low blood pressure, cholesterol is 198, I am not overweight.  I exercise 4-5 times a week for at least 30 minutes.  I do yoga to help manage stress. I don't smoke or drink.  I have had lots of tests....echocardiogram, stress test, CT scan of my heart, etc.  My cardiologist says I have a "structurally normal heart".  I also have a negligble score on the CRP blood test.

My grandfather and father both died at 38 of "heart attacks".  There is no information available about my grandfathers death.  But my father had chest pain for two weeks prior to dying.  He thought is was a hiatal hernia.  He also was 30 pounds overweight, had high cholesterol, chain smoked, didn't exercise, drank alcohol in excess.  Also at the time of his death he was taking "diet pills" from Mexico that were not FDA approved here in the US.

My questions.....What is the real scoop on heart disease and heredity/genetics?  How much of my father's death could be attributed to poor lifestyle choices?  Is there anyone else out there with a family history like mine?  Is there something I should be doing that I'm not to decrease the risk of developing heart disease?
1 Responses
255722 tn?1452546541
Hi there,
    You are already doing so much to reduce your risks, and I would say that you are probably in very good health.  You are seeing a cardiologist regularly (I say that because of your prescription to Toprol and the likelihood that you see a cardio at least once per year).  Your cardiologist is aware of your family history, and will no doubt monitor you closely, just to be sure.  However, you are one of those unlucky, lucky people who have PVC's/PAC's.  I say "unlucky, lucky" because they are a real pain to deal with.  Very bothersome and worrisome.  However, especially when they are benign, they are nice little instigators for going to see a cardiologist regularly and having a great deal of information about your heart.  Every so often, those of us with PVC's etc. go for a battery of tests that normally are only done when you have a full blown heart attack.  I know more about my heart muscle than my Dad ever has.  He's had a massive coronary that he barely survived, and I STILL know more about my heart health than he does.  

Your grandfather's death is more a mystery than anything.  During that generation, any sudden death was attributed to heart attack, but this was not necessarily the case.  However, your father's early demise is evidence that there may be a hereditary component that puts your family at an increased cardiac risk.  Your father's lifestyle would certainly NOT increase his survival chances or his overall cardiac health.  So, if he had a genetic risk already, his life style most definitely would trigger serious issues.  

You, knowing that you may be at risk, have done wonderful things.  You eat right, exercise, don't smoke or drink heavily, your BP is good, cholesterol is fine, and you work to manage stress levels through exercise.  99% of the American population is in MUCH worse shape than you are at this point :-)   (regardless of their genetic disposition).

I would say keep up the good work.  Continue to visit with your cardiologist annually and try not to worry.  If you do have some genetic risk, your lifestyle has most definitely decreased its effect at this point.

Take care.
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