Lakewood OH

Family history of heart disease can be overcome, cardiologists say

By Kevin Kelley


If your family tree includes several persons who died of heart attacks, that doesn’t mean you are doomed to the same fate, say two Cleveland Clinic cardiologists.

“People can control their heart attack risk,” Mark Gillinov, M.D., told West Life. “Diet, exercise and not smoking can be used to dramatically reduce risks of stroke and heart attack. Even if heart disease runs in the family, most people can beat their genes.”

A year ago, Gillinov and Steven Nissen, M.D., published “Heart 411: The Only Guide to Heart Health You’ll Ever Need” to help people avoid death by the nation’s No. 1 killer – heart disease.

“We wrote the book because there is so much misinformation out there,” Gillinov said. “Half of what you read on the Internet is wrong. We did the research and judged the evidence to distill scientifically proven heart information.”

Gillinov, a cardiac surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic’s Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute, and Nissen, chairman of the hospital’s Robert and Suzanne Tomsich Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, will discuss their book at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Westlake Porter Public Library, 27333 Center Ridge Road.

The authors recommend a Mediterranean diet, which includes high consumption of fruits, vegetables and unrefined cereals, moderate to high consumption of fish and low consumption of meat.

“Replace saturated fats with good fats like those found in fish and olive oil,” Gillinov explained. He also recommends people avoid fad diets.

“Extreme diets that cut out whole classes of nutrients – no fat or no carbs – usually don’t work,” he said.

“Avoid trans fats found in commercially baked goods,” Gillinov added. “If the ingredients include the words “partially hydrogenated,” there are trans fats and you should skip it.”

Gillinov is an expert on cardiac valve surgeries and replacements and is surgical director of the Clinic’s Center for Atrial Fibrillation. The graduate of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is the medical editor of the Cleveland Clinic’s Cardiac Consult newsletter. Nissen has spent two decades researching the use of intravascular ultrasound imaging for the assessment of coronary atherosclerosis. He graduated from the University of Michigan School of Medicine and is editor of Current Cardiology Report.

Copies of “Heart 411” will be available for purchase at Tuesday’s library program. To register for the program, call Porter Library at 440-250-5462 or visit




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