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Role Family History Plays in Heart Disease

Updated: Thursday, November 7 2013, 10:14 AM EST
ANDERSON TOWNSHIP, Ohio (Liz Bonis) -- The American Heart Association celebrates Healthy Eating Day Wednesday, but it also reminds all of us that diet is just one factor playing an important  role in heart disease risk. Medical reporter Liz Bonis explains why in today's Medical Edge.

"The pain was different, it was not like anything I had ever felt before, radiated down my arm, I could feel it in the back of my throat." John Fovel admits, cardiac rehab was not part of his fall fitness plan. But he's here now because 14 days ago, he and his wife were heading home when he felt this unique pain and by the time he got to the hospital, "it was very apparent from the EKG that there was something wrong, within about 25 thirty minutes in was in the cath lab having an angiogram, and angioplasty."

Now as he rebuilds his heart after a heart attack, he reminds all of us that diet and exercise play a big role in heart disease risk but so does something else, "I race bikes, I eat well but I've got family history and family history got in the way."

It's also why Tracie Saelinger, the cardiac rehab coordinator here, says we should all know the early warning signs of a heart event and that you can have a heart attack at any age:  "we have people from their 20s up to age 90."

Part of the reason we wanted to share this story, is that not only can this happen to you because of your family history, but it can happen regardless of  what you know. John's wife is sort of a special friend of ours, she is the communications director for the American Heart Association."You know,  it's a little scary when your husband is saying he has a pain going down the right side of his arm."

Lori Fovel has shared a number of patient heart stories with us throughout the years but she says John's story really brings it home. "When we did find out he had a heart attack, hearing all those words about my husband, pretty scary, pretty different."

Lori says she now appreciates not only the cutting edge care and research supported by the American Heart Association even more but also the man she loves, who perhaps because it survived, "I am, I think I appreciate, I think I appreciate him a little bit more."

Click here for a link to the early warning signs of a heart attack from the American Heart Association.

Role Family History Plays in Heart Disease

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