Cardiovascular diseases: how much does DNA, lifestyle and the environment in which we live count? Professor Gianluigi Condorelli, Director of the Cardiovascular Department at Humanitas, spoke at Tg2 Medicina 33.

The lifestyle is fundamental for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Professor Condorelli explains, “We often hear about older people who are well, despite having adopted an unhealthy lifestyle. But we must remember that, although the DNA counts, the concept of a risk factor is a group concept, which should be unrelated to the anecdote. Otherwise, it is confusing. We need to assess how many people of those who have high cholesterol or who do not exercise and eat badly suffer a cardiovascular episode”.

Genetic Predisposition and Lifestyle

“Fortunately, in the presence of a parent who suffers or has suffered from a cardiovascular disease, there is no need to worry. However, it is important to control and adopt an appropriate lifestyle.

Although genetic predisposition plays a role, cardiovascular diseases are predictable and preventable.

Therefore, if a parent has had a cardiovascular incident, it is necessary to pay attention to lifestyle”, said the specialist.

Professor Condorelli then reported the example of the island of Okinawa in Japan. An island where the percentage of centenarians is very high. The opening of the American military bases on the island has also brought with it Western eating habits, such as fast food. Thus, the children of centenarians as well have started to develop myocardial infarction at the age of 50. An example of how “good genes” alone do not prevent cardiovascular diseases without being supported by a healthy lifestyle.

Cardiovascular diseases are multi-genetic. The single genes’ contribution is little, yet the lifestyle is very important. It can guarantee against the development of cardiovascular incidents, even in the presence of genes that predispose to their development”, the professor recommended.