Don’t Know if Heart Disease Runs in Your Family? Here’s What to Do

Health Conditions

Don’t Know if Heart Disease Runs in Your Family? Here’s What to Do

Heart Attack
Ilima Loomis
By Ilima Loomis
Feb 25, 2020
Don’t Know if Heart Disease Runs in Your Family? Here’s What to Do

In a perfect world, we’d all come equipped with a detailed, unabridged family health history — complete with a record of every person we’re related to, and every disease they may have had in their lifetime. But of course, that’s not how life works. In reality, there are many reasons you may not know your family’s health history, from adoption to estrangement, to relatives who keep their health information private.

In the case of heart disease, knowing your family’s history of problems like heart attack and stroke can make a real difference in managing your own health. But that doesn’t mean that if you don’t have this information there’s nothing you can do. Here’s how to get the most benefit from your family’s heart health history — no matter how much you actually know.

Learning Your Heart Disease History

If you’re in contact with most of your relatives but just don’t know if heart disease runs in your family, creating a family health history is a great place to start. Try to gather health information from at least three generations, starting with your siblings, parents, and grandparents. Start with some basic biographical information, including ethnic background, and then ask about any medical conditions, including when they were diagnosed, how they were treated, and if the problem is under control.

Don’t forget to ask family members about any relatives who may have died, especially those who may have died at an early age. Find out as much as you can about what they died of and any health conditions they may have had, especially if their cause of death was cardiac arrest.

If You Have a Family History of Heart Attack

If you know that heart disease runs in your family, that’s important information. The fact is, having a family history of heart disease significantly increases your risk. But it doesn’t mean that if a family member has had a heart attack or stroke that you are destined to have one too. In fact, while genes play an important role in determining your potential for heart disease, you can balance out that risk by living a healthy lifestyle.

People with an elevated risk of heart disease can cut their risk almost in half if they practice healthy habits including not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, staying physically active, and eating a heart-healthy diet.

Having a healthy lifestyle is a good idea for everyone who wants to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease. But it’s especially important if you find out that heart disease runs in your family.

What if You Don’t Know Your Family History?

There may be branches of your family tree that remain a mystery, whether it’s because you or your parent was adopted, people aren’t comfortable sharing their health information for cultural reasons, or there’s a black sheep in the family who’s no longer in contact. What can you do?

It’s possible that one of the many direct-to-consumer DNA testing services could help you identify and contact blood relatives, who may be able to share some information about health conditions that run in the family. If you’re adopted, these services can also offer insights into your ethnic background, which can be a risk factor in some medical conditions, including heart disease.

However, while these home tests can identify some genetic risk factors for disease, they can also offer incomplete or confusing results, so they may not be the most reliable tool to determine your own risk. Another option is genetic counseling, in which a doctor or specialist orders a more detailed genetic test to look at specific areas of concern. This can be a good option if you have some idea that heart disease may run in your family, and want more information about the specific heart condition that may be causing concern, and how you can best manage it.

What You Can Do

Regardless of your family history, there are things you can do to keep your heart healthy. Steps you can take include:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Losing weight if you are obese
  • Getting regular physical activity
  • Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Keeping blood pressure and cholesterol under control
  • Managing diabetes
  • Drinking alcohol in moderation
  • Managing stress

Several health conditions, like diabetes and high blood pressure, can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, so in addition to living a healthy lifestyle, it’s important to get regular check-ups and work with your doctor to manage these conditions. If you’re using medication to manage a health condition like high blood pressure, you can use the RxSaver™ tool to find coupons on prescription medications at pharmacies near you.

Use the RxSaver tool below to search discounted coupons at nearby pharmacies.

Some of the medications you can find on RxSaver™ include:

1. Diltiazem

The average RxSaver price for Diltiazem at major retail pharmacies is $29.37*

2. Felodipine

The average RxSaver price for Felodipine at major retail pharmacies is $35.30*

3. Isradipine

The average RxSaver price for Isradipine at major retail pharmacies is $59.39*

4. Metoprolol

The average RxSaver price for Metoprolol at major retail pharmacies is $10.70*

5. Nadolol

The average RxSaver price for Nadolol at major retail pharmacies is $27.28*

6. Chlorothiazide

The average RxSaver price for Chlorothiazide at major retail pharmacies is $5.18*

7. Lisinopril

The average RxSaver price for Lisinopril at major retail pharmacies is $17.68*

8. Valsartan

The average RxSaver price for Valsartan at major retail pharmacies is $27.29*

9. Losartan Potassium

The average RxSaver price for Losartan Potassium at major retail pharmacies is $11.80*

Knowing your family’s history of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke can help you make better decisions to take care of your health. But even if there are big gaps in your knowledge, there are still things you can do to reduce your risk. By getting as much information as you can, managing your health conditions, and choosing a healthy lifestyle, you can take the best possible care of your heart.

*Average pricing based on the following dosages:

Diltiazem: 120 MG / 90 CAP ER 24hs

Felodipine: 5 MG / 90 tab er 24hs

Isradipine: 5 MG / 60 capsules

Metoprolol: 25 MG / 30 tab er 24hs

Nadolol: 20 MG / 30 tablets

Chlorothiazide: 500 MG / 1 TAB

Lisinopril: 20 MG / 90 tablets

Valsartan: 160 MG / 30 tablets

Losartan Potassium: 50 MG / 30 TAB

Pricing averaged at the following pharmacies: CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens Pharmacy, Walmart Pharmacy, Costco Pharmacy on May 12, 2020. Visit to find your coupon prices in your area.

Ilima Loomis

Ilima Loomis

Ilima Loomis is a freelance writer and journalist who specializes in writing about health care, HR, science, travel, and Hawaii. You can find more of her work at Ilima is a regular contributor to the RxSaver blog.

The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.