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  1. Burke, Lora E. PhD, MPH, RN


The interplay of genetic and environmental factors places first-degree relatives of individuals with premature coronary heart disease at greater risk of developing the disease than the general population. Disease processes, such as dyslipidemia, hypertension, and glucose and insulin metabolism, and lifestyle habits, such as eating and exercise patterns, as well as socioeconomic status aggregate in families with coronary heart disease. The degree of risk associated with a family history varies with the degree of relationship and the age at onset of disease. All individuals with a family history of premature heart disease should have a thorough coronary risk assessment performed, which can be initiated in an office visit. Absolute risk for coronary heart disease determination will predict the intensity of preventive interventions. This article reviews the components of risk determination and primary prevention in individuals with a strong family history of coronary heart disease.