Heart Failure Runs in Families
At Least 70% More Heart Failure in Offspring of Heart Failure Parents
July 12, 2006 -- You can inherit heart failure, new data from
the Framingham Heart Study shows.
The famous study is now two generations old, with some 20 years of follow-up
data on the children of the original study subjects. The risk factors today
used to evaluate a person's risk of heart attack and stroke came from the
Now the study shows what many doctors suspected: The sons and daughters of
people with heart failure have at least a 70% higher risk of heart failure. And
they have twice the risk of low heart-pumping strength -- which could lead to
heart failure -- as people whose parents did not have the condition.
Framingham researcher Douglas S. Lee, MD, PhD, and colleagues report the
findings in the July 13 issue of the New England Journal of
"We found that heart failure in parents was associated with a
significant increase by a factor of about 2 in the likelihood of [heart]
dysfunction in their offspring; the finding was consistent in both men and
women," Lee and colleagues write. "Parental heart failure was
associated ... with at least a 70% increase in the risk of heart failure in the
Heart failure doesn't have a single cause. It's the result of a combination
of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. Lee and colleagues estimate
that parental heart failure is to blame for about 18% of the heart failure seen
in the children of heart failure parents.