Former President George W. Bush’s newly diagnosed heart disease is a strong indicator that his younger brother Jeb could be at risk as well, a top cardiologist tells Newsmax Health.
“Jeb should be checked out for heart disease,” said Chauncey Crandall, M.D.
The ex-president, 67, is recovering from the implantation of a cardiac stent. The surgery was performed to restore blood flow to one of his coronary arteries to prevent a heart attack.
Sibling heart risk has been confirmed by researchers in multiple studies. When one sibling has heart disease, the others are at far higher risk. A major study last year that looked at 4 million people found that those with a close relative with heart disease – a parent, sibling or child – have a 50 percent higher chance of developing it themselves. Other research published in the Journal of American Medical Association found that if you have a brother or sister with heart disease, risk rises 45 percent.
The JAMA study spurred an American Heart Association official to say that doctors should ask patients not only about the heart history of their parents, but of their siblings.
There have been no reports that Jeb, a possible presidential contender in 2016, has ever had any heart issues. But there are warning signs, notes Dr. Crandall.
It is unknown whether other Bush family members have had heart disease. However, George and Jeb’s mother, Barbara, had the aortic valve in her heart replaced in 2009 at the age of 83. This condition is primarily attributed to aging.
The Bush brother’s father, former President George H.W. Bush, 89, suffers from vascular Parkinson’s disease, a condition caused by tiny strokes to the brain.
There have been no reports that the other Bush siblings – brothers Neil and Marvin, and sister Dorothy – have had heart problems. Another sister, Pauline, died of leukemia in 1953.
Heart disease is an occupational hazard for the high-stress job of a politician, said Dr. Crandall, head of the cardiac transplant program at the world-renowned Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic. “In my experience, any politician, as well as the head of any company, corporation, or other highly placed official, is always a candidate for heart disease because of all the stress that these occupations carry,” he said.
Just because Jeb Bush is at increased risk for heart disease, it doesn’t mean he will develop it, said Dr. Crandall, author of the Heart Health Report
“The good news is that heart disease can be prevented, and once you have it, it can be reversed. You may have inherited the genetic defect, but that’s like a light switch. You can turn it on by living a high-risk lifestyle, or you can turn it off with lifestyle modification,” Dr. Crandall said.
“Keeping your weight down, eating more of a plant-based diet, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep are all steps even people who are at risk because of their heredity can take to reduce their risk of heart disease.”
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