Heart patient Leonard Castro, as he nears the end of a cardiac rehab session… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
There's more reason to worry (about yourself, that is) if Dad had a heart attack than if he had a stroke, researchers have found.
In a study published Tuesday in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics, scientists at the University of Oxford in England showed that people are more likely to inherit the risk of having a heart attack than the risk of having a stroke.
The team looked at data collected in England from 906 patients who'd suffered acute heart ailments such as a heart attack and 1,105 patients with acute cerebral events, which include stroke and transient ischemic attack (or mini-stroke). They also looked at patients' parents' and siblings' histories of heart attack and stroke.
In both cases, family history was a stronger predictor for heart attack than for stroke.
Among the heart patients, 30% had one parent and 21% had at least one sibling who'd had a heart attack. Among the patients who'd had strokes and other cerebral events, those stats dropped to 21% and 8%, respectively.
Having one parent who'd had a heart attack increased the risk of heart attack 1.5 times; having two parents who had had a heart attack increased the risk six times. But parent's history of stroke didn't change patient risk significantly, the team reported.
Senior author Dr. Peter Rothwell, a professor of clinical neurology at Oxford University, said that the study, which confirmed earlier investigations into the heritability of heart attack and stroke, suggested that doctors needed to rethink the way they calculate a patient's risk for heart attack and stroke. "Currently, most risk models lump a patient's family history of stroke and heart attack together," he said in a statement. "We probably should model family history of stroke and heart attack separately in the future."