A new study suggests siblings can share a high risk factor of heart disease. VOA's Amy Katz has more.
Studies have found health problems, including heart disease and diabetes, can be hereditary. But a new study by Dr. Joanne Murabito and her colleagues at the Framingham Heart Study, an organization in Massachusetts, has found that people with a sibling who has heart disease are at a higher risk factor for the same illness.
"Having a sibling with cardiovascular disease increases your risk for a heart attack by as much as 45 percent compared to people without a sibling with cardiovascular disease," said Dr. Murabito.
The study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, followed 2,500 heart-healthy people who had siblings with heart disease.
"We followed them for eight years,” said the doctor, “looking for the occurrence of a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack, stroke or blockage in the arteries in their legs."
The study also found there is a higher risk factor in sibling cardiovascular disease than parental cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Murabito believes the risk factor may be explained by a combination of genetics and shared childhood eating and exercise habits.
These three sisters are heart-healthy, but their brother died of a heart attack.
"We don't really have dinner-table discussions about our heath," said one sister.
But Dr. Murabito suggests that siblings should share information about their heart health with each other and their doctors.