Let the Family Tree Help you

by Vickie Johnston, Owner and Founder, H2O Health

Recently, I had genetic testing done specifically because of my family history. I am one of 12 children, and I have lost four siblings. Two died very young and two middle-aged brothers both had fatal heart attacks. In addition, my nephew died suddenly at age 28 from a massive heart attack.

Seven years ago my 33-year-old son had a stroke, and a year ago he had a massive heart attack and nearly died. How does a healthy young man have a massive heart attack with no prior health or weight issues?

It didn’t take me long to figure out something was shaking in the family tree and none of our family issues were related to COVID.

Usually when children have health issues similar to a parent it’s because they eat the same diet. However, there are times when it can be a genetic defect. Many cancers are caused by genetic defect — that information is vital to all blood-related family members.

In our family’s case, many uncles and aunts had suffered heart attacks, but nobody ever put two and two together. It has only been since my son had his near fatal heart attack that I encouraged him to get genetic testing, as the medical experts he was seeing couldn’t determine a cause.

When my healthy son started having issues, I was pretty sure it had to be genetics.

Had we known years ago that he was a carrier of this particular gene, perhaps his recent episode could have been avoided. Sadly, what really drives health care in America is prescribing pharmaceuticals to treat symptoms, rather than learning the cause and determining how to resolve or mitigate the effects.

When done early enough, genetic testing can warn of many health issues as well as possibly save lives when appropriate changes are made. Find out if you are a carrier of an altered/mutated gene and what the possibilities are that you could pass it on.

Testing positive doesn’t always mean you will get the disease/disorder, it often simply means you are at a higher risk of developing that problem. Knowing ahead of time is useful and the key to success in beating that issue and short-circuiting the long journey of discovery and guess work, especially when it comes to children’s disorders and cancers in anyone younger than 50.