Children could inherit coronary diseases if their parents have a past history of heart conditions, with mothers having a greater influence, says a study.
Researchers led by Kristina Sundquist of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, used a national registry of more than 11 million people stretching back to 1932 to assess how parents' history of heart problems might be linked to their children.
Their analysis focused on people who had suffered a heart attack or angina, a severe constricting pain in the heart, reported the online edition of BBC News.
A woman has a 43 percent greater chance of inheriting such heart disease if her mother suffered from the condition, the study said. By comparison, if her father had the disease she faces only a 17 percent greater chance of heart disease than patients with no family history of the illness.
Sons are also influenced by their parents' heart health, but for them the paternal transmission of the disease was almost as strong. For a man, if coronary heart disease struck his mother or father, his chance of developing it increase by 55 percent or 41 percent, respectively.
"Children spend more time with their mothers, during which they may pick up risky behaviours such as poor dietary habits, physical inactivity and smoking," Sundquist said.
Not unexpectedly, if both parents have a history of such ill health, the male and female risk of heart attack and angina increases even more - by 108 percent and 82 percent, respectively.
"If a person has a mother or both parents with coronary heart disease then it means he or she should be more aware of other risk factors," Sundquist says.