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Siblings Often Share Heart Risks
Date:11/1/2007

Brothers, especially, may be most affected, study finds

THURSDAY, Nov. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Heart disease or a heart attack can signal raised cardiovascular risks for an individual's brothers or sisters, too, U.S. researchers report.

The risk for siblings is particularly strong among brothers, the Johns Hopkins University team found. For example, if one brother has a heart attack or chest pain from blocked arteries, the other is 20 percent more likely to also have a heart attack.

The risk for sisters is less, but there also appears to be about a 7 percent increased risk for them, according to the report in the Nov. 1 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.

"The thing that really struck us was the large number of people who had heart attack or near-heart attacks because of clogged arteries," said lead researcher Dr. Dhananjay Vaidya, an assistant professor of medicine.

In 2005, these researchers found that siblings with a family history of heart disease who were obese or overweight had a 60 percent increased risk of having a heart attack before age 60.

In this study, Vaidya's team collected data on 800 brothers and sisters aged 30 to 60 who participated in the Sibling and Family Heart Study.

Vaidya said his group expected about 10 percent of the brothers to suffer a heart attack, as occurs in the general population. However, "we found instead of 10 percent of the brothers getting heart attacks, 20 percent of the brothers got heart attacks over 10 years of following them," he said.

Among sisters, the researchers expected about 6 percent of them to have heart attacks, but 7 percent had heart attacks, Vaidya said. "That might be because women tend to get heart attacks at a later age than men," he said.

If a man has a sibling who had had a heart attack relatively early in life, then they should be considered at increased risk for a heart attack, Vaidya
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