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Q: My father and uncle both died of heart attacks in their early 50s. What do I need to do to make sure I don't meet the same fate?

A family history of "premature" heart disease is defined as when a close male relative suffers a heart attack before the age of 55, or if a close female relative suffers a heart attack before the age of 65. If one has such a family history, it's important to see your primary physician to be screened for those risk factors, which may be the basis of that familial predisposition. This should include a determination of one's lipid profile (including good and bad cholesterol), blood pressure, and to rule out diabetes. Regardless of one's family history, everyone will benefit from a healthy diet, regular exercise, and by not smoking.

Colin D. Lee, MD

Interventional cardiology

Maui Memorial Medical Center Outpatient Clinic
85 Maui Lani Parkway
Wailuku, HI 96793