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Heart Disease and the Family

  • By: M. Robin DiMatteo & Tricia A. Brodbeck
  • In: Encyclopedia of Family Health
  • Edited by: Martha Craft-Rosenberg & Shelley-Rae Pehler
  • Subject:Family Health, Family Policy, Family Law

Heart disease is the primary cause of mortality in the United States, claiming over 800,000 lives each year. One of three deaths is caused by cardiovascular disease, leaving many families bereaved; over 80 million people have one or more forms of cardiovascular disease.

Families have a strong influence on the health of their members, and the health-related behaviors that are most relevant to heart disease risk (diet, exercise, smoking, alcohol use, and methods of managing stress) are usually learned and reinforced within the family. Families embody cultural norms that affect health choices, and although they can be a major source of social support, they can also be a source of stress. Heart disease profoundly affects families, who must change and adapt to its demands. A family ...

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