Zoom Topic Idea – Ask if High Cholesterol and Heart Disease Run in Your Family!

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Everyone can help lower their cholesterol with a heart-healthy diet and daily exercise (even walking!) But if high cholesterol and heart disease run in your family, your risk may be too high to manage with diet and exercise alone.

Genetics are a huge factor in cholesterol and heart health, and yet many never discuss cholesterol and heart disease with their relatives. To manage your risk, you need to fully understand it. And that means you need to know your family history.

So here’s an idea for your next family Zoom. Ask, “Does high cholesterol and/or heart disease run in our family?” While you’re at it, ask about stroke and high blood pressure too!

Maybe you’ll find out (like I did) that absolutely everyone in your extended family has high cholesterol. Or maybe you’ll find out high blood pressure runs in your family. Or that Grandma or Grandpa So-and-So died young, of a heart attack or stroke.

This is vital information for you to know and share with your doctor. Because it, along with your cholesterol test results and blood pressure are vital to calculating your 10-year risk of heart disease and (hopefully) a preventative treatment plan.

Here is a very short video of Dr. Larry Sperling, Executive Director of the Million Hearts organization, talking about the importance of asking questions and knowing your personal family history:

Dr. Sperling mentions ‘know your numbers.’ If you want to read more about what cholesterol test results (numbers) mean in terms of risk and treatment plans, check out my RESOURCES page and/or this post: The 2018 Guidelines on the Management of Blood Cholesterol. In broad strokes, the Guidelines state that if you are in one of the following four groups you have elevated heart disease risk and statin medication should be considered:

  1. those who already have cardiovascular disease
  2. anyone with LDL (bad) cholesterol of 190 mg/dL or higher
  3. anyone between 40 and 75 years of age who has Type 2 diabetes
  4. people between 40 and 75 who have an estimated 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease of 7.5 percent or higher. (Note there’s a ‘risk calculator’ that’s easy for anyone to use – there’s a link to that in the post as well.)

In this awful world of COVID-19, it’s likely that you’re speaking with your family members about health. So why not take the opportunity to ask if high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure run in your family?


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