Genetic Heart Disease
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Throughout the twentieth century, heart disease has emerged as the single most lethal health condition facing Americans. Prior to this time, heart disease was very rarely identified as a primary cause of death. However, the many social, cultural, and economic changes that occurred throughout the twentieth century exerted a profoundly transformative influence upon the typical American lifestyle during this period.
Food and Heart Health
Rather than relying on physical labor to produce food, a centralized food industry emerged, allowing Americans to exert minimal efforts in procuring their sustenance. In addition, the manufacture of food items changed the quality of many of the foods eaten, with high-calorie, saturated fats, low-nutrient fast foods and processed foods becoming staples of the American diet. America has become a fast food nation. Many daily functions and operations became mechanized and automated, requiring little more than the push of a button to complete household tasks such as dish-washing or laundry which would have required substantial physical labor in past eras.
Taken together, these environmental changes played a highly significant role in increasing the prevalence of heart disease in the United States. Heart disease rates among the general population have increased precipitously in recent years.
Genetics and the Heart
For many years, nutritional and medical experts blamed the increased incidence and lethality of heart disease almost entirely upon external factors such as poor diet and deficient physical exertion. While these factors also play an important role in the etiological model for heart disease that currently exists, the notion that genetic factors also play a role in engendering heart disease has also gained widespread currency. At the current juncture, most researchers posit a model that combines both environmental and genetic factors. This discussion will explore the following aspects of the genetic nature of heart disease:
- The role that genetic factors play in heart disease
- Emphasize determining to what degree, if any, that the presence of genetic links to the disease will influence the nature of prevention efforts.
- Examine the incidence of male verse female
As stated previously, most experts in the medical field today assert that it is the interaction of both genetic and environmental factors that result in the development of heart disease in most patients. Indeed, one recent study determined that as many of 80% of patients with a diagnosis of coronary heart disease tested positive for at least one predetermining genetic trait that is linked with a predisposition for developing the disease.
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