What Should I Look for in My Family History?

When reviewing your family’s health history in terms of inherited heart disease, it is important to make note of certain “red flags.”  These may be signs of a specific heart disease that is running in your family.  None of these alone are reason for alarm. However, taken together with your own medical history, it may help to discuss things with your healthcare provider to better understand your risks. 

These are some “red flags” you can look for in your family history and discuss with your genetic counselor or doctor at your appointment: 

  • A history of sudden cardiac arrest or sudden death in any family member, including:
    • Drowning unexpectedly
    • Single-car accident that didn’t involve alcohol or weather
    • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Heart disease or congestive heart failure before 50 years of age
  • 2 or more close relatives (on the same side of your family) with the same heart condition
  • A personal or family history of unexplained fainting or passing out
  • Family members with a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) device
  • Multiple family members with extremely high cholesterol (even in children)