Doctors in the House-Heart Disease and Diabetes

1) What defines "family history" when we talk about heart disease?  Is it the immediate past generation only and how many generations normally carry the risk before we are out of the window period? (Sebastian Wee)

Family history is when a first degree (immediate family) has a history of heart disease at a young age (<45 years old in males, like father or brother, and <55 in females). It's not a black-and-white situation. I think what we're looking at is a spectrum of risk. The more family members you have with blood vessel problems, the closer they are related to you, and probably the younger the age when they had their problems -- those are the significant risk factors. The risk is usually carried up to 2 generations.

If you do have a strong family history of heart attacks, particularly at a young age, it's in your best interest to make sure your blood pressure is under control. Get your cholesterol checked. Do those things we know that can lower your risk.


2) My mother has type 2 diabetes. Is this hereditary and how do I prevent getting it? (Nicholas)


In Type 1 Diabetes, the body is not producing insulin, while in Type 2 Diabetes, the cells are not responding properly to the insulin, and/or there is not enough insulin being produced.

Looking at Type 2 Diabetes more closely, this is usually diagnosed with those over 40, and is sometimes referred as adult-onset diabetes. It is often associated with obesity, and has a strong genetic link.

In Singapore, about 10 per cent of the population aged 18 to 69 has type 2 diabetes, making it the fifth most common medical condition and one of the top six killer disease in the country. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure, it's better to make healthy choices to prevent diabetes than become diabetic and run the risk of complications. A healthy lifestyle can help you prevent type 2 diabetes. Even if there's a history of diabetes in your family, diet and exercise can help.

If you're at medium to high risk for type 2 diabetes, talk with your health care provider. Although you can't control all risk factors, early diagnosis and making healthy lifestyle changes can prevent or delay complications from diabetes -- such as heart disease, stroke, blindness and death.

Submit your pressing health queries now to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


More Articles

View all