New results from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's (NHLBI) Framingham Heart Study demonstrate that having a parent who has had heart failure confers a 70 percent greater risk of developing the disease, even when accounting for common heart failure risk factors. Study participants with a parental occurrence of heart failure were about twice as likely to have a poorly functioning left ventricle, a heart abnormality which can lead to the development of heart failure.
This study provides further evidence that heart failure runs in families, however, it does not show whether the disease is inherited. Further study is needed to identify any shared environmental and genetic factors for heart failure that may explain familial occurrence of the condition. According to study authors, knowing a patient's parental occurrence of heart failure should lead physicians to investigate and treat early signs of heart failure.
"Association of Parental Heart Failure with Risk of Heart Failure in Offspring," will be published in the July 13 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Daniel Levy, M.D., director of NHLBI's Framingham Heart Study, is available to comment on the study's findings.
To schedule interviews, contact the NHLBI Communications Office at 301-496-4236.