Genetics and a Healthy Heart

February is American Heart Month and a time to focus on what remains the nation’s number one killer — heart disease — which is responsible for one in three deaths in the United States every year.

Why heart disease is so deadly has a lot to do with lifestyle and diet in America. Obesity, even among the very young, is increasingly commonplace, and the majority of Americans do not get enough exercise, according to the American Heart Association.

Fortunately, we can all reduce our risk of heart disease. We can exercise more, eat right and reduce stress in our lives. But it’s also important to understand, that like many health conditions, genetic factors contribute to heart disease risk.

Understanding how your genetics plays a role can help you craft the most effective plan for a healthy heart.

23andMe reports on several genetic factors that impact heart health, such as those associated with coronary heart disease andatrial fibrillation, as well as a rare heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. We also have reports on how your genes affect your response toanti-clotting drugs to reduce the risk of heart attack.

The role genetics plays in these different conditions varies greatly. In some cases, such as in coronary heart disease, many of the genetic factors involved are not yet fully known.

While you can’t change your genetics, you can do a lot to change your risks for heart disease by changing your lifestyle. Cutting out smoking, lowering cholesterol, exercising more and eating right can go a long way towards keeping your heart healthy.

Editor’s note: Pending an FDA decision, 23andMe no longer offers new customers access to health reports referred to in this post. Customers who purchased prior to November 22, 2013 will still be able to see their health reports, but those who purchased after that time will not. Those customers will have access to ancestry information as well as access to their uninterpreted raw data.





  • Altorfer

    Americans, not Europeans! Because we have a healthier lifestyle than the Americans. We also do more walk than the Americans.

  • http://www.facebook.com/RianBanks Rian C. Banks

    I am American and I come from a family very good heart health. I am mostly African American and have a very fit and athletic background seeing as my Dad is an army brat and a coach and my mom a very active woman who played on team sports as a girl. I feel that I have it in my genes to stay fit and healthy. My waistline is one of the smallest in the world for males to have and as I get older I won’t gain that much more so even in my old age I will still be fit. I was wondering if there is a paradox occurring in my little american family similar to the French paradox in Europe.

  • Gary

    I would but I get my results back from you people!!!

  • Tanya

    I don’t see who could possibly doubt that Americans are particularly at risk due to lifestyle choices, so adding the possubility of a genetic risk element only heightens the likelihood of problems for us here in the Red, White and Blue. What I want to know is, are there genetic elements that are strong enough to completely prevent the disease, or to develop it, no matter what our life choices are? I personally believe that a small pocket of the population is one end or the other, with a majority being susceptible to it IF the lifestyle choices are lacking.

  • Antony

    There is also a Swiss paradox (beyond the “French paradox”). The Swiss have one of the lowest levels of heart disease in the western world and yet their average cholesterol is 240!

  • Rafia

    At present, heart disease is a global setback and a major cause of deaths in America. There are certain risk factors apart from unhealthy diet and lifestyle, like family history, age which are beyond human power to change. But it doesn’t mean that you have to accept it as your destiny. Researchers and experts have covered a long way to prevent
    such heart problems from casting a shadow in your

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