Family History, Heart Disease and Stroke

family of women on a walk

Is heart disease or stroke in your family? If so, your risk may be higher.

Did your father have a stroke? Did your mother have a heart attack? Did any of your grandparents have heart disease?

Those might seem like random questions, but they’re very important when it comes to understanding your risk for these diseases. Knowing your family’s health history can help you avoid both heart disease and stroke – the No. 1 and No. 5 causes of death in the United States.

Both the risk of heart disease itself, as well as some of the risk factors for heart disease are strongly linked to family history.

How much family history do you need to know?

You should share your family history with your health care professional as soon as possible.

If you don’t know the full history, start with your immediate family. Find out if your brothers, sisters, parents or grandparents had heart disease or a stroke and how old they were when these developed.

If I have a family history, what can I do about it?

Our genetics are powerful influencers of our health — you can’t counteract them. However, if you have a family history of heart disease, you can help offset them by having as healthy of a lifestyle as possible. That means lowering your risk by changing health behaviors that can increase your chances of having heart disease or a stroke. This includes getting routine checkups with your health care team.

If you want to start living a healthier life, look no further than Life’s Essential 8™. Life’s Essential 8 was designed by the American Heart Association with the goal of improved health by educating the public on how best to live. These measures have one unique thing in common: any person can make these changes. The steps are not expensive to take and even modest improvements to your health will make a big difference.

Start with one or two. This simple, eight-step list has been developed to deliver on the hope we all have – to live a longer, healthier life.