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Top 10 Ways to Avoid a Heart Attack

        Health | Heart

Heart Tip 2: Know Your Family Medical History

Merry Christmas, Dad! What's your disease history?
Merry Christmas, Dad! What's your disease history?
Ariel Skelley/Getty Images

This one isn't as easy as you might think. Some families never suffer through a divorce and are open and honest about everything that goes on. Other families are fractured and distant, with medical goings on swept under the rug for the sake of not worrying children. Because of divorce, death and parents giving their children up for adoption, many adults may not even be acquainted with one or both of their parents at all, much less their medical histories. Some people have genetic predispositions to certain diseases and illnesses -- heart disease is no exception. If your father died from a heart attack at the age of 50, then chances are you may be headed down that same road. Even the healthiest of individuals can't do anything about the genes they inherited.

The first thing you should do to get your information is to interview your siblings and parents and record the information they give you. Your doctor will ask you these questions anyway, so you may as well have the information. From there, go on to interview other family members. Find out about chronic illnesses, disease and any major surgeries they've undergone. Ask your grandparents about their siblings and parents. Take down all the information in detailed notes, no matter how limited it is. Even knowing how and at what age your great-grandmother passed away can be important to your risk level. The last thing you should ask in your interviews is what kind of lifestyle your relatives lived. If your grandfather who died from a heart attack at 50 drank like a fish and smoked like a chimney while he stuffed his face with salt pork, then you should take that into consideration.