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Genet Med. 2004 May-Jun;6(3):153-8.

Family history of heart disease and cardiovascular disease risk-reducing behaviors.

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Tèxas Department of Health, Bureau of Chronic Disease and Tobacco Prevention, 1100 West 49th Street, T-402, Austin, TX 78756, USA.



Family history is an important cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factor. Preventive behaviors, including lifestyle modifications, can attenuate CVD risk. We studied the association between family history-based heart disease (HD) risk and CVD risk-reducing behaviors.


Using data from the 2001 Healthstyles survey, we compared frequencies of CVD risk-reducing behaviors among adults without known CVD in categories defined by family history-based HD risk. We classified respondents' HD risk as average (no first-degree relatives with HD), moderate (one relative), or high (> or = two relatives). Behaviors studied included lifestyle modifications, cholesterol measurement, and aspirin use.


Of 3383 respondents without known CVD, 28% were classified as being at moderate risk and 15% as being at high risk for HD based on family history. Adjusted odds ratios indicated that moderate- and high-risk respondents were more likely to report having cholesterol measured within the previous 5 years (OR = 1.39, 95% Confidence Interval [CI] = 1.16-1.67 and 1.29, 95% CI = 1.01-1.64, respectively), and aspirin use to reduce CVD risk (OR = 1.49, 95% CI = 1.23-1.79 and 1.67, 95% CI = 1.33-2.09, respectively) than average-risk respondents.


Almost one half of respondents reported a family history of HD. Aspirin use and cholesterol measurement (i.e., behaviors that health-care providers might suggest) were more likely to be reported by moderate- and high-risk respondents than were lifestyle changes. Family history merits further investigation as a public health tool to identify persons with increased HD risk who might benefit from enhanced prevention strategies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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