Lisa Marie Presley’s family had a history of heart disease — what you should know

Lisa Marie Presley died on January 12, 2023 after suffering cardiac arrest. While the cause of death has not yet been released, Presley’s family has a history of heart disease that stretches back generations. “Many different types of heart disease can be passed down in families,” says Harvard Health. “Some are caused by just one or a few genetic changes that have a very powerful impact on disease development. Known as monogenic disorders, they include unusual disorders that primarily affect the heart muscle (such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) or the electrical system (such as long QT syndrome). Another example is familial hypercholesterolemia, which causes very high cholesterol levels and can lead to premature coronary artery disease (which occurs before the age of 50).” Lisa Marie’s father Elvis Presley died on August 16, 1977 at the age of 42. The cause of death was given as cardiac arrhythmias with ventricular fibrillation, which can be triggered by a heart attack. Factors cited for his death included high blood pressure, blocked coronary arteries and an enlarged heart, and an opiate addiction. Gladys Love Presley, Elvis’ mother, died of heart failure at the age of 46 and his father, Vernon, died at the age of 63 after suffering a cardiac arrest. Supposedly Gladys’ three brothers passed away in her 40s of heart and lung diseases. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US. While lifestyle factors make a significant difference, genetics play a role. “Heart disease is 90 percent treatable – anyone anywhere in the world can prevent heart disease, especially by eating foods low in salt and cholesterol, exercising regularly and not smoking.” says Leslie Cho, MD, Division Chief of Preventive Cardiology and Cardiac Rehabilitation at the Cleveland Clinic. “Even if a person in the family has heart disease, incredible advances in medicine mean we can still prevent and treat heart disease.” Learn what to look out for if you have inherited heart disease here. Read on – and don’t miss these to protect your health and the health of others Sure signs you already had COVID.


Familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Doctor holds heart

Doctor holds heart

Familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is an inherited heart disease that can lead to sudden death. “Familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a fairly common inherited heart condition that can affect people of all ages,” says Penn Medicine. “This disease can thicken part or all of the heart muscle. In extreme cases, it can even lead to sudden death. The thickening often occurs in the interventricular septum — the wall that separates the left and right ventricles (the two lower chambers of the heart muscle). This can prevent proper blood flow from the heart and force the heart to pump harder than it should. This thickening can also cause the left ventricle to have less room to hold blood, which can increase pressure in that chamber. When this happens you You may feel short of breath. You could also be at risk for cardiac arrhythmias.” Symptoms of familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can differ among family members. While one person may have chest pains, another may have palpitations or even no symptoms at all. “These differences in symptoms can be dangerous because you may not attribute your symptoms to your family history of this disease, which can result in you delaying seeking medical help. Fortunately, early medical attention can help prevent disease progression or complications, and treat symptoms.”


Familial dilated cardiomyopathy


Familial dilated cardiomyopathy is another inherited heart disease. “All first-degree family members (sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, parents) of a patient with familial dilated cardiomyopathy should undergo screening for dilated cardiomyopathy with echocardiography and electrocardiogram.” says Stanford Health. “Other family members may be screened if their first-degree relatives are diagnosed with a medical condition or if they are engaged in high-risk jobs or activities such as competitive sports. If genetic testing is done and a mutation is found, all family members who have the mutation are recommended to undergo a full clinical evaluation. All individuals with symptoms of dilated cardiomyopathy should undergo clinical evaluation.” “Inherited heart disease is a disease that affects the heart and is caused by genetic problems. These are misspellings of the genetic code known as DNA and are often referred to as mutations.” says Elijah Behr, MD, a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic Healthcare. “Mutations can be inherited from parents or, if the mutation is sporadic, first appear in a particular family member. If a family member died suddenly and unexpectedly at a young age, it’s possible they have a genetic heart condition, which means other family members may be at risk. Expert assessment of sudden death cases and family members is an important way to try to prevent further deaths.”


Familial hypercholesterolaemia


“Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is one of the most common inherited lipid disorders in the United States,” says cardiologist Ashish Sarraju, MD. “It’s a condition that, through genetic mutation or mutations, leads to lifelong elevations in cholesterol, particularly low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or LDL cholesterol, which is often referred to as bad cholesterol. It’s surprisingly common. So there are two forms of the disease. There’s a form called heterozygous FH, where people carry a single copy of the mutation, and then there’s homozygous FH, where people carry two copies of the mutation. Heterozygous FH is as common as one in 200 to one in 300 people in the US, and it is estimated that perhaps only 10% of them will be diagnosed with the disease. Homozygous FH is much less common. It’s really more on the order of one in several hundred thousand to one in a million.” dr Sarraju says people with certain health factors should consider additional screening. “So I would say that adults with LDL cholesterol greater than 190, 190 mg/dl should definitely consider it, as well as those who have a strong family history of heart disease, even if their LDL cholesterol is low.” not quite reaching 190. If it’s elevated, I think it’s reasonable to consider taking a detailed and family history, a focused physical exam for findings consistent with FH, and possibly even considering genetic testing to establish the diagnosis. “


Blood group A, B or AB

Senior couple hiking showing how to regain muscle mass after 60

Senior couple hiking showing how to regain muscle mass after 60

Blood groups A, B or AB are the most dangerous when it comes to heart disease. “While people cannot change their blood type, our results may help doctors better understand who is at risk for developing heart disease,” says Lu Qi, Ph.D. “It is good to know your blood type as well as your cholesterol or blood pressure levels. If you know you’re at higher risk, you can reduce risk by adopting a healthier lifestyle, such as eating. and don’t smoke.” dr Cho believes heart disease screening should begin when children are around seven years old. “We don’t want to put cholesterol medication on children of this age, we want to encourage them to think about the importance of a healthy diet and regular exercise.” says dr Cho. “We see heart disease as an older person’s problem, but prevention should really start in childhood.”


cardiac support

Mediterranean cuisine

Mediterranean cuisine

Lifestyle factors like diet and exercise can have a significant impact on heart health, even with genetic factors. “We focus on a Mediterranean-style diet for optimal heart health,” says Julia Zumpano, a registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic who works in preventive cardiology. “The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, grains, fish, extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds. As you start eating more meatless meals, you will definitely get closer to heart health. The inclusion of beans, legumes, and any kind of nuts and seeds, and meatless products like tofu, tempeh, if you want to add a little more adventurism and regularity to your diet. I generally say start with one meatless meal a week and replace one meal with meat, ideally red meat, through a meatless meal.” Not smoking, prioritizing sleep, managing stress, maintaining a healthy weight, and monitoring cholesterol levels are other important measures to support heart health. “We know that smoking is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and that quitting leads to a reduction in cardiovascular disease and the risk of death,” says dr Mayank Sardana, a cardiac electrophysiology fellow at the University of California School of Medicine at San Francisco. “But only a minority of smokers receive counseling in cardiology clinics and support in trying to quit.” Lisa Marie Presley’s family had a history of heart disease — what you should know

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