Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"Can lifestyle overcome genetics?"

ZocdocAnswersCan lifestyle overcome genetics?


Many people in my family, both on my father and mother's side, have experienced heart disease or heart issues in their lifetime. Most of my family members, and some doctors, have told me that this is genetic, and that it runs in the family. Is it possible to overcome a genetic predisposition to heart disease by completely changing my existing lifestyle? Could I incorporate more heart healthy exercise and foods to increase the level of both my heart and overall health? I want to live a long, healthy, and fulfilling life, and I almost refuse to believe that there is nothing I can do to attain this goal. I am a 34 year old male, currently maintaing a healthy weight.


Glad to hear that you are so interested and motivated to improve and maintain your weight. The best thing to do for personalized advice is to speak with your doctor. While a strong family history of heart disease is certainly a risk factor for heart disease yourself, it is certainly not the only factor that determines what your heart health will be. As doctors and health care professionals that treat heart conditions, we talk about modifiable risk factors and those that are not. Examples of those that are not modifiable include both your family history and your age. Obviously, older age is a risk factor for heart disease as well. Many things are able to be modified, however, and your diet, overall health, and your activity levels are some examples of this. Additionally, if you are smoking, this has been found to be very damaging to your heart as well as other organs, and it is recommended that you stop. For information specific to yourself, you should speak with your doctor. There are online tools available that can help you to measure your specific risk, and can help you to learn what things you are able to adjust to help decrease your risk. However, please speak with your doctor.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.