Family History Assessment: Strategies for Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease

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Hunt, Steven C
Gwinn, Marta
Adams, Ted D
Hunt, Steven C and Gwinn, Marta and Adams, Ted D (2003) Family History Assessment: Strategies for Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 24 (2). pp. 136-142.
Family history assessment can be used to combine population-wide health promotion and risk-reduction efforts with a high-risk, targeted approach to help reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Family history is an independent predictor of CVD, and the upper portion of the family history distribution explains a larger fraction of CVD in the population than can be explained by extreme values of other risk factors (e.g., blood pressure and cholesterol). A positive family history of disease captures the underlying complexities of gene–gene and gene–environment interactions by identifying families with combinations of risk factors, both measured and unmeasured, that lead to disease expression. Family history is a useful tool for identifying most prevalent cases of CVD and for population-wide disease-prevention efforts. A positive family history also identifies the relatively small subset of families in the population at highest risk for CVD who may benefit most from targeted screening and intensive intervention.