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Health A to Z

Hereditary Diseases: 6 Health Conditions That Run In The Family

Binish Ahmed

Your genetics load the gun but your lifestyle pulls the trigger.

Did you know that some health conditions run in the family? Hereditary diseases happen when you inherit an altered (faulty) gene from your parents that increases your chances of developing that condition. Here is a list of 6 diseases that can be inherited:

Heart diseases

Heart diseases such as heart attack, heart failure, and stroke tend to run in the family. However, factors such as inactive lifestyle, poor diet, smoking, and alcoholism increase the overall risk. Thus, it is recommended that when a family member is diagnosed with heart disease, other family members should undergo examination for risk factors such as checking the blood pressure and lipid levels because, at the early stages, symptoms may not be apparent.


Diabetes is a serious disease in which the level of sugar in the blood is abnormally high. Many times, people learn about their elevated blood sugar after they’ve developed it because often symptoms are not visible. The symptoms appear when your body fails to convert sugar into energy, due to most likely a decreased level of insulin. Genetic and lifestyle factors like diet and inactivity are mainly responsible for diabetes. Early detection and treatment can help prevent serious health problems.

High blood pressure

Genes alone are not responsible for this familial disease. Along with certain lifestyle and environmental factors, your chances of getting a disease increase. Such is the case of hypertension or high blood pressure. Women are just as likely as men to develop hypertension at some point in their lives. It is often called a ‘silent killer’ because sometimes there are no symptoms of elevated pressure, but if not diagnosed on time, it may lead to serious heart diseases.

Thyroid disorder

The thyroid gland regulates metabolism, digestion, heart function, brain development, muscle control, bone maintenance, and emotions. Iodine deficiency can lead to a thyroid hormone imbalance and leads to symptoms like weight gain, weight loss, fatigue, hair loss, temperature sensitivity, menstrual irregularities, and even depression. Experts say that 15-20% of hypothyroidism cases are hereditary in nature. There is also a high genetic correlation with the development of hyperthyroidism as well. 

Mood disorders

Mood disorders are more likely to be caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. They can be triggered by stressful life events and drug abuse. Depression, anxiety, dysthymia, and bipolar disorder are some of the most common mood disorders. Some mood disorders seem to run in families but as of now, no genes have been linked to it. 

Some cancers

Did you know that only a handful of cancers really pose a risk to family members? Breast, ovarian, prostate and bowel cancers can be inherited. Sometimes, a genetic mutation may increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancers. If you think you may be carrying the oncogenes (genes that have the tendency to cause tumour in cells), it is advisable to speak to a genetic specialist who will advise you on the best course of action.

Other hereditary diseases that run in the family

Keep in mind

Health conditions do run in families, but it isn’t necessary that the child always inherits the faulty genes. Lifestyle and environmental factors play an important role in getting a disease. It is always recommended to undergo a medical assessment if your family has a history of hereditary diseases.

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