Several genetic conditions, which run in families, are linked to heart disease, such as hypertension, abnormal blood lipids, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes, according to the World Heart Federation. Another genetic risk factor is race; the American Heart Association states that African-Americans and Hispanics have higher rates of heart conditions.
Sometimes, several members of a family may develop the same disease because of environment rather than genetics, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For example, smoking and eating unhealthy foods can increase the risk of heart disease, and these environments or habits may be shared among family members. People with known genetic risk factors or with a family history of heart disease can make changes to their environment or lifestyle in order to decrease their risk, as the American Heart Association recommends.
Some studies have identified specific genes known to increase a person's risk of heart disease. For example, WebMD reported on a study that identified six gene variants that were more likely to occur in people who had heart attacks or heart disease. However, this study was conducted with white Europeans, and people of other races or from other geographic locations may have other genetic risk factors.