Heart attacks may not be strongly associated with genes or family history, but bad lifestyle habits may be responsible for heart attacks.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that about 600,000 people die of heart diseases each year in the U.S., which equates to 1 in 4 deaths in the country. About 720,000 Americans have heart attacks and more than 500,000 people experience heart attack for the first time.

Previous studies have revealed that genes are linked with heart attacks. However, a new study conducted by the researchers from the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City suggest that genetics may not be largely responsible for heart attacks as previously thought.

The latest study may give a sigh of relief to people who have family history of heart diseases and they can avert heart attacks by adopting a healthy lifestyle.

Several lifestyle behaviors such as poor diet, obesity, lack of physical activity, stress, smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol can also lead to the development of heart diseases.

The study included examination of data for 700,000 patients with different severities of coronary disease. These patients have had or never had heart attacks. The study found that an individual can inherit severe coronary artery disease regardless of someone has a heart attack. The researchers also found that people can experience heart attacks even with less severe coronary disease, which suggests that heart attacks are not clustered in families.

Dr. Benjamin D. Horne, the director of cardiovascular and genetic epidemiology at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute, who also led the study, explains that heart attacks and coronary diseases are very closely related. This close link had led some researchers to believe they are the same. Previously, some experts believed that if a person suffered from coronary disease, that person will also have a heart attack.

However, the latest study points out that people should realize that they can avert heart attacks by adopting a better lifestyle.

"This link between the registry and the medical records allowed us to look at information about both heart attacks and the degree of coronary disease," says Dr. Horne. "That means we can compare heart attack patients to people with coronary disease who were free from heart attacks."

The study reaffirms that a balanced diet and regular physical exercise can also help to deter some medical conditions. 

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