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Is Heart Disease Genetic? Family History and Heart Health

Is Heart Disease Genetic? Family History and Heart Health

Besides dietary and lifestyles choices, your genetic make-up can also affect your heart health. And it’s not uncommon for heart conditions to be passed through families. Left untreated, these inherited health cardiovascular issues can be life-threatening, so it’s well worth doing an eagle eye audit of your family history.

What causes an inherited heart condition?

Genes are what make of us unique. They’re responsible for our appearance and how our bodies work. So, if your parent has a faulty gene that’s known to lead to a heart condition, you have a 50 per cent chance of having it, too. These inherited conditions are caused by a mutation in one or more of your genes.

Warning signs

Unfortunately, for many families the first red flag there’s something wrong is when a family member dies suddenly with no obvious explanation.  Aside from this, other people may experience the following symptoms: 

  • Palpitations

  • Blackouts

  • Dizzy spells


Beat the heartbreak

All it takes is a simple DNA test to detect a faulty gene and kick-start cascade testing to check your entire family for an inherited heart condition. From there, your doctor can recommend the best treatment options to monitor and manage the cardiovascular health of your family members.

Did you know?
Inherited heart conditions can affect people of any age.

A gender difference

When you think of a heart attack patient, your mind probably turns to someone clutching at their chest in agonising pain. But you may be surprised to learn this is generally truer of men. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to develop ‘atypical’ heart attack symptoms that are often subtler and harder to detect.  For some, there’s even an absence of the classic chest pain altogether.

Heart attack symptoms - Men:

Men are more likely to have the well-known cardiac symptoms:

  • Crushing chest pain

  • Discomfort, squeezing, or fullness in the chest

  • Cold sweat

  • Pain in the arm, jaw, or back

  • Nausea


Heart attack symptoms - Women

Unlike their male counterparts, women are less likely to experience crushing chest sensation. What’s more probable is a woman will experience symptoms that are less obviously related to heart health.

  • Nausea

  • Indigestion

  • Pressure in the centre of the chest

  • Feeling faint or lightheaded

  • Squeezing on the upper back

  • Shortness of breath

If you experience any of these symptoms, call 999 and request an ambulance.

Other warning signs of poor heart health

Heart attack red flags aside, these symptoms may indicate a potential heart problem in both men and women. Though you won’t need to call 999, you should still consult your GP. 

  • Snoring and sleep apnoea

  • A persistent cough

  • Swollen feet, ankles, or legs

  • Irregular heartbeat

  • Extreme fatigue

  • Cramping sensation in your calves


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Our Author - Olivia Salter


Olivia Salter has always been an avid health nut. After graduating from the University of Bristol, she began working for a nutritional consultancy where she discovered her passion for all things wellness-related. There, she executed much of the company’s content marketing strategy and found her niche in health writing, publishing articles in Women’s Health, Mind Body Green, Thrive and Psychologies.

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