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13 Mar 2007

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?
Answer 405 views

01 Jan 0001

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.
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