Heart Disease is in Your DNA

Genetics plays a larger role in the development of coronary heart disease than lifestyle

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Both genetics and lifestyle play a part in developing coronary heart disease. It's long been debated which plays the larger role. A new study suggests it may be the genes.

A study of individuals who had been adopted had their heart health examined and studied against both their adoptive and biological parents, which overwhelmingly indicated that genetics are most important in developing coronary heart disease.

"Exercise and eat healthy to reduce heart disease risks."

Kristina Sundquist, a professor at the Center for Primary Health Care Research in Sweden, said the study suggests coronary heart disease is not transferred through an unhealthy lifestyle in the family, but genetics instead. She emphasized, however, that does not mean that lifestyle is not a factor in developing heart disease.

Sundquist and a team of researchers followed 80,214 adopted men and women through the Swedish multi-generation register and the in-patient care register. All of the participants were born in 1932 or later and developed coronary artery disease between 1973 and 2008.

The registers were also used to study  the adoptive and biological parents of each of the participants during the same time period.

Researchers found that the risk of coronary heart disease in adopted individuals who had at least one biological parent with coronary heart disease was between 40 percent and 60 percent higher than that of a control group.

However, there was no increased risk in participants whose adoptive parents suffered from coronary artery disease, even if both suffered from the disease.

The research was published in the American Heart Journal.

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Review Date: 
September 6, 2011
Last Updated:
September 6, 2011