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Question
Posted by: Anon | 2007/03/13

Bad genes

Hi Doc.
My Mom is 47 years old, has had two heart attacks and a double bypass by the age of 42. My Dad has a family history of high blood pressure and is on chronic med for it. His Mother died of a stroke.

I am 24 years old and had pre-eclampsia during my first (and only) pregnancy. Ever since then, I have struggled with high blood pressure.

I checked my BP yesterday, which wasn't too bad 140/90, what is worrying me though is my cholesterol is 6.43 which is way too high for my age! I am not overweight and don't eat fatty foods or foods that are high in fat that often.

My son is two years old. I wrote you a while back, since he does breath-holding spells and he turns blue when playing and running around. I took him to a cardiologist and he found that he has a hole in his heart (which could still close with time) and there is something wrong with his left valve. I have to take him back every few months for a check-up, since the only way to fix it is open heart surgery. I feel that it's my fault he has this defect.

I have come to the conclusion that I have bad genes? Would another child even be an option in future that I might consider?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberDoc

Dear Anon
We South Africans generally have "bad" genes for hypercholesterolemia and hypertension ( our forefathers' fault - they ate too much biltong...:-) We even have children as young as 13 with high cholesterol. I think you should be on medication for high cholesterol and probably even on a hypertension tablet too. Diet alone will probably not bring your cholesterol down enough with your family history. The hole in your son's heart is not your fault or due to a genetic fault - babies have a hole in the heart normally before being born and then it closes after birth - in some kids it takes longer to close.
If you control your blood pressure and cholesterol, and see a gyne during your next pregancy for careful monitoring you can have other children, but you do have a risk of getting eclampsia again and your children probably have the risk of having high cholesterol/high bloodpressure later in life.
You also need to teach your kids to eat a heart healthy diet from early on in life. Look under diets on the health 24 website.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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