Four in 10 Scots do not know family medical history

Scotland's chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood has called for efforts to tackle over-treatment of patients. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
Scotland's chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood has called for efforts to tackle over-treatment of patients. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
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Thousands of Scots could be putting their lives at risk as new figures reveal four in 10 people have never asked about their family’s medical history.

Having a family history of cardiovascular disease can put you at increased risk of life-threatening conditions such as coronary heart disease, heart attack, heart failure and stroke.

Almost nine in ten Scots said they would want to know if heart disease ran in their family.

Yet new statistics released by British Heart Foundation (BHF) Scotland show 40 per cent of Scotland’s adults have never discussed their family medical history with their loved ones, although 44 per cent worry that a relative could develop a condition that runs in their family.
Nearly half of those polled knew someone in their family who has a heart condition or has died from cardiovascular disease but 53 per cent of those were not able to name what that condition is or what it means.

Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the BHF, said: “These statistics show that too few of us are having important conversations with our relatives about our inherited risk of cardiovascular disease.

“Heart disease can strike without warning, but by knowing if you’re predisposed to these devastating conditions you can help protect yourself against it.

“As a GP it’s vital I know the details of any family history of disease when making an assessment and diagnosis with one of my patients.

“Although you can’t change your family history, you can change your lifestyle and reduce your risk of heart disease. Help us find new ways to fight cardiovascular disease by signing up to Wear it. Beat it. and you will help fund cutting-edge research to better understand, treat and predict who is at risk.”

BHF Scotland is calling for people to put themselves in the picture about their family history of cardiovascular disease and to take part in a fundraising day known as Wear it. Beat it. on February 5.

By wearing red and holding a fundraising event, Scots can help power life saving research into preventing and treating cardiovascular disease.

Sign up online at www.bhf.org.uk/red or call 0300 330 0645.