Recent research has indicated that mother's heart disease rather than the father's tend to pose more of a risk to a person with a family history of coronary disease.
The results of the study have been published in the June issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. This could help to better guide the treatment of patients with a family history of coronary problems as well as show early signs of the disease themselves.
Although current risk assessments do mention family history of coronary disease, they rarely take into account the sex of the parent with the disease or if both parents have the disease.
According to Dr. Kristina Sundquist, an assistant professor at the Karolinska Institute's Center for Family Medicine in Stockholm, Sweden, patients at higher familial risk, need more aggressive treatment of any other disease factors that they have. 'They are at considerably greater risk from things such as high blood pressure or elevated lipids than someone who doesn't have a mother or both parents with heart-disease history.'
The researchers created a database using Swedish-government registries of deaths and hospital discharges. They traced all Swedish men and women born since 1932 and their registered parents, in addition to all heart-disease-related hospital admissions and deaths in both groups.
The result was a database of 10,946 male patients and 3,281 female patients who had a mother and/or father with heart disease.
It was found that men had a 55 percent greater risk of developing disease when they had a maternal history of heart disease, and a 41 percent higher risk if their father had heart disease, than male patients with no parental history of coronary problems. The risk more than doubled, to 109 percent, if both parents had heart disease.
In women also, maternal transmission of CHD was stronger, about 43 percent, than paternal transmission, 17 percent. Sundquist says 'The risk if both parents had CHD was 82 percent.'
In addition it was found that men and women with at least one parent who developed premature heart disease _ before age 55 in the fathers and 65 in the mothers _ were at even higher risk of themselves developing heart disease.
Although the parental differences in men's and women's percentages of inherited risk are not fully explained by the study, the greater influence from mothers may be due to genetics, some form of fetal programming of metabolism and other heart-disease risk factors, or the sharing of risky habits and behaviors during childhood.