At the November meetings in New Orleans of the American Heart Association Meetings, Dr. Sekar Kathiresan, chief of genetic research at Massachusetts General, discussed a recently published New England Journal of Medicine article. This study evaluated the risks of genetics and lifestyle on heart attacks or other heart problems.

    The field of epigenetics, what factors turn “on and off” genes which govern our physiology, is growing and fascinating. In this recently published article, 55,000 individuals from four studies were evaluated. Fifty genes, known to be associated with heart risk were evaluated.

    It was found that if you had favorable lifestyle factors including not smoking, exercising, eating well, and staying slim, these lifestyle factors affected heart health. If those lifestyle factors were favorable, even if a strong familial genetic risk was present, the risk of developing heart disease was cut in half when compared to those at high risk and unfavorable lifestyle. Why is this important?

    For years, it has been thought that if you had a family history of heart disease, you were doomed. This is not the case. A healthy lifestyle is able to mitigate the genes. This study only evaluated fifty genes and four lifestyle factors. It only makes sense that based on this article the better the lifestyle, the better the genes, less mutations, less disease expression.

    Lifestyle factors include everything we bring into our bodies.  More studies need to be performed. What about  whole food plant based diets and genetic expression? What about rest? Does the media play a role on gene expression. Studies have already been done on relaxation techniques and genetic expression. What about rest and worship as scientifically proven methods to lower the risk of heart disease? Heartwise is currently in conversation with two universities about doing these important studies, but it takes money.

    Science is just uncovering and making us aware of the many lifestyle habits that change our gene expression and trigger disease.  Not only do we need more studies on genetic expression, we need to develop programs to help others make lifestyle changes.

     In our fast paced world, just to exercise, eat and breathe better, move more, and lose weight is not an easy task. In this recently presented study, the risk of heart disease was lowered fifty percent. Show me another intervention that is this effective. The problem is change is hard. With this in mind, I have a suggestion if you might be interested in improving your genetics. Check out Remember our lifestyle and genetics are linked and you can improve your genetic fate.