Death from a heart attack was not likely to happen immediately after siblings died, the researchers said. Rather, the risk rose in the four to six years after a sibling's death among women and in the two to six years afterward among men, they found.
"This is a red flag for families," said Dr. Stephen Green, associate chairman of the department of cardiology at North Shore University Hospital, in Manhasset, N.Y. "We know that heart disease is genetic and environmental and typically siblings and family members share the same gene pool, but also share the same bad habits."
Many siblings whose brother or sister died from a heart attack have undiagnosed heart disease, Green said.
If you -- or someone you know -- has a family member with a history of heart disease or heart attack, or a family member who died from heart disease, it is important to talk with your primary care doctor or a cardiologist to make sure it doesn't happen to you, Green said.
To learn more about heart attacks, visit the American Heart Association.
SOURCES: Mikael Rostila, Ph.D., associate professor, Stockholm University/Karolinska Institute, Sweden; Stephen Green, M.D., associate chairman, department of cardiology, North Shore University Hospital, Manhasset, N.Y.; Feb. 27, 2013, Journal of the American Heart Association
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