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Center for Heart & Vascular Health

Familial Cardiovascular Risk Assessment Program

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States. Identifying risks and managing them is a crucial part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. Many people believe that heart disease occurs at random but that is not always the case. Up to 15 percent of heart disease is hereditary, meaning that a risk for heart conditions is passed from one generation to the next. These hereditary or genetic risk factors may increase an individual’s odds of heart disease.

The Familial Cardiovascular Risk Assessment program is a vital part of the ChristianaCare Center for Heart & Vascular Health. This program offers a comprehensive cardiovascular risk assessment that focuses on family history and genetics, along with personal and environmental factors. In addition, the staff at the Center for Heart & Vascular Health is dedicated to learning new ways to better treat these diseases.

Because many heart attacks, strokes and even sudden cardiac deaths occur without warning, early detection is important. Also, patients diagnosed with cardiovascular disease can help slow its progression by learning to manage their risk factors and lead heart-healthy lives.

Benefits and limitations of genetic testing

Identifying hereditary heart problems allows patients and their doctors to schedule tests for relatives, in order to identify people who need regular care and those who do not. It helps doctors to manage patients with both cardiac and non-cardiac problems. And it helps patients to make informed family-planning decisions.

Genetic testing may not identify all of the inherited causes of heart disease.

Know the key signs of hereditary cardiovascular disease

We cannot change our family history. But knowing it can help reduce our risk of developing heart disease. Some of the red flags to look for in your family are:

  • Two or more close relatives on the same side of the family with the same or related condition, including relatives who have a pacemaker or who have had heart surgery.
  • Multiple relatives with related disorders such as diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
  • Heart disease at a young age in one or more close relatives (males before age 55 or females before age 65).
  • A history of sudden death in the family, including unexplained accidental death such as drowning or car accidents.
  • A personal or family history of fainting or passing out.
  • A pattern of heart disease being passed through generations in the family.

If any of these key indicators are found, genetic counseling can help assess risk for heart disease for you and your family. This allows us to develop a plan to prevent or aggressively manage your heart disease.

Familial Cardiovascular Risk Assessment Program
Center for Heart & Vascular Health
4755 Ogletown-Stanton Road, Newark, DE 19718 directions