Heart disease is a term that covers various cardiovascular conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels. It is a major cause of death worldwide, with more than 17 million deaths in 2016. While lifestyle factors such as diet, physical activity, and smoking are well-known contributors to heart disease, genetics also plays a significant role in determining an individual’s susceptibility to heart problems.
According to Dr Anu Prabha, a research scientist and product manager at HaystackAnalytics, genetic factors can make young people more vulnerable to heart disease. In a small genetic study conducted by HaystackAnalytics with 160 people, they found that 70% of them had genes that made them more likely to have high cholesterol, which is a risk factor for heart disease. Additionally, 30% of the cases showed that their genes made them susceptible to both high cholesterol and diabetes, another condition that can affect the heart.
Genetic factors can be influenced by family history, specific gene variants, and the interaction between genetics and environmental factors. For instance, having a close relative who has suffered from heart disease can increase one’s own risk of developing the same condition.
Genetic testing can help diagnose and treat heart disease
With the recent advancements in genetic testing, it is now possible to identify the root causes of chronic illnesses like heart disease by analysing one’s DNA. Genetic testing can reveal how one’s body controls blood pressure or how cholesterol moves in the blood, which are important factors for heart health.
Genetic testing can also help doctors to personalise medication and treatment plans according to an individual’s genetic profile. This can lead to more effective treatment with fewer side effects. For example, some people may respond better to certain drugs or therapies than others based on their genes.
Moreover, genetic testing can help individuals to be aware of their genetic predisposition, enabling them to make informed decisions and seek early medical intervention to manage their risk effectively.
Genetic factors are not the only determinants of heart health
While genetics plays a crucial role in influencing one’s risk of heart disease, it is not the only factor that matters. External factors such as unhealthy lifestyles and poor dietary habits can also trigger or worsen heart problems.
Therefore, it is important to make smart choices and adjust one’s lifestyle according to one’s genes. By adopting an active lifestyle and making informed nutritional dietary choices as part of one’s daily routine, one can proactively work towards a healthy heart and overall well-being.
The role of genetics in heart disease is undeniable, and genetic testing can provide valuable insights into one’s health status and treatment options. However, one should not neglect the importance of lifestyle factors that can also affect one’s heart health.