This observation has considerable public health significance, the studys authors note, given that cardiovascular disease often begins early in life and is the leading cause of death and disability in the United States.
Researchers led by Kevin E. Kip, Ph.D., from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, followed almost 4,000 young adults enrolled in a large-scale study of cardiovascular disease risk development. The research team evaluated each participants risk level for heart attack and stroke at the start of the study by examining such risk factors as weight, smoking and blood cholesterol. This evaluation was repeated twice at five-year intervals.
At each assessment, the researchers also determined which participants had a close family member -- either a parent or a sibling who suffered a heart attack or stroke.
The investigators expected to observe more healthy behaviors and improvements in indicators of risk among those young adults whose family history had taken a turn for the worse. However, their findings, published in the May issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, strongly contradict this assumption.
Rates of smoking and smoking cessation are no different among young adults who see a change in family history and those who do not, the researchers found. Nor are young adults whose family members suffer strokes or heart attacks any more likely to see changes in physical activity level, weight, blood pressure or blood chemistry that would indicate reduced cardiovascular risk.
Not only was a change in family history unrelated to improved risk-factor behavior and control, but also the o
Contact: Katherine Duda
Center for the Advancement of Health