An intelligent man I know with a family history of heart disease said to me that he had heard that 80% of what was going to happen was determined by genetics so why bother to exercise. Do you have other data that I can tell him?
According to a statement by cardiology researcher Dr. H.R. Superko at HeartDisease.com, "Inherited traits that contribute to Heart Disease Risk can be identified in approximately 80% of heart disease patients."
Notice, that is NOT the same as "80% of what's going to happen is determined by genetics."
Moreover, Dr. Superko goes on to say, "The rate of heart disease progression can be slowed and some degree of regression is possible."
In other words, even with a family history of heart disease, there can be some reduction of risk.
He adds that "Screening family members can be quite informative and "and provides a great opportunity for effective preventive [my emphasis] cardiology."
The same doctor participated in and published a study in Circulation (Vol. 89, 1994) indicating that lifestyle changes (including exercise) can significantly lower the risk of developing CAD.
Another study of 84,000 nurses published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that women who adopted healthy lifestyles - including exercising at least 30 minutes per day - were 83% less likely to have heart attacks compared with other women. (N Engl J Med 2000;343:16 - 22.)
Other well-known studies that you can show your client include the Stanford Coronary Risk Intervention Project (SCRIP), the first major, large-scale randomized trial to show the positive effects of an organized multifactor risk reduction program.
The problem is partly semantics and partly the mis-interpretation of a "sound bite” by your client.
Contrary to what your friend implied, there's an abundance of scientific evidence that lifestyle changes including exercise have a positive effect on the risk of heart disease regardless of family history.