Heart disease prevention is everything you do to avoid a heart condition. It begins by leading a heart-healthy lifestyle that includes physical activity, a balanced diet, and knowing your history and your body.

Family History and Heart Disease

Family history is one of the leading risk factors for heart disease.

Stay healthy and lower your risk of heart disease by knowing your family history of heart disease and sharing it with your healthcare provider.

This information allows you to take proactive steps to prevent heart disease, like implementing lifestyle changes and getting the proper diagnostic tests to help you manage your heart disease risk factors.

Where to start?

First, find out if anyone in your immediate family — your brothers, sisters, parents and grandparents — has or had heart disease in their lifetime, and how old they were when it started.

Next, explore your extended family — cousins, aunts and uncles — for further clues.

Generations beyond grandparents did not have access to the same medical treatments that we have today, and they lived in a much different environment, so it isn’t as important to find out if they had heart disease.

Understand Your Risk Factors

Be prepared to speak with your doctor by writing your questions down and bringing them with you to your appointment. Use the list below as a guide.


  • What is my overall risk for heart disease?
  • What lifestyle changes can I start making to improve my heart health?
  • What tests should I have to monitor my risk factors for developing heart disease or other cardiovascular diseases? How often do I need these screenings?
  • What are my blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels? What do these test results mean?
  • How much exercise do I need to help protect my heart?
  • Should I take aspirin to help prevent a heart attack? If so, how much and how often?
  • Am I at high risk for heart-related complications if I take birth control pills?
  • I’ve heard the warning signs of a heart attack can be different in women. What should I look for?

Know Your Numbers

Blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar can point to an increased risk of heart disease. If you have elevated levels of these measures, your doctor will want to work with you to lower these numbers to reduce your cardiovascular risk.

Your daily choices can have a big impact on your risk of future heart problems. Talk with your healthcare team about how to best reduce or manage your risk factors.