Lifestyle, explains most premature heart disease

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PHYSICAL inactivity, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol play a greater role than genetics in many young patients with heart disease, according to research presented today at ESC Congress 2019 together with the World Congress of Cardiology. The findings show that healthy behaviours should be a top priority for reducing heart disease even in those with a family history of early onset.

“Genetics is an important contributor to premature heart disease but should not be used as an excuse to say it is inevitable,” said study author Dr Joao A. Sousa of Funchal Hospital, Portugal.

“In our clinical practise, we often hear young patients with premature heart disease ‘seek shelter’ and explanations in their genetics/family history,” he added. “However, when we look at the data in our study, these young patients were frequently smokers, physically inactive, with high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure — all of which can be changed.”

The study enrolled 1,075 patients under 50, of whom 555 had coronary artery disease (known as premature CAD). Specific conditions included stable angina, heart attack, and unstable angina. The average age was 45 and 87% were men. Risk factor levels and genetics in patients were compared to a control group of 520 healthy volunteers (average age 44, and 86% men). Patients and controls were recruited from the Genes in Madeira and Coronary Disease (GENEMACOR) database.