Parental cardiovascular disease as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease in middle-aged adults: a prospective study of parents and offspring

JAMA. 2004 May 12;291(18):2204-11. doi: 10.1001/jama.291.18.2204.


Context: Whether parental cardiovascular disease confers increased risk independent of other risk factors remains controversial. Prior studies relied on offspring report, without complete validation of parental events.

Objective: To determine whether parental cardiovascular disease predicts offspring events independent of traditional risk factors, using a prospective design for both parents and offspring, and uniform criteria to validate events.

Design: Inception cohort study.

Setting: Framingham Heart Study, a US population-based epidemiologic cohort begun in 1948 with the offspring cohort established in 1971.

Participants: All Framingham Offspring Study participants (aged > or =30 years) who were free of cardiovascular disease and both parents in the original Framingham cohort.

Main outcome measures: We examined the association of parental cardiovascular disease with 8-year risk of offspring cardiovascular disease, using pooled logistic regression.

Results: Among 2302 men and women (mean age, 44 years), 164 men and 79 women had cardiovascular events during follow-up. Compared with participants with no parental cardiovascular disease, those with at least 1 parent with premature cardiovascular disease (onset age <55 years in father, <65 years in mother) had greater risk for events, with age-adjusted odds ratios of 2.6 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.7-4.1) for men and 2.3 (95% CI, 1.3-4.3) for women. Multivariable adjustment resulted in odds ratios of 2.0 (95% CI, 1.2-3.1) for men and 1.7 (95% CI, 0.9-3.1) for women. Nonpremature parental cardiovascular disease and parental coronary disease were weaker predictors. Addition of parental information aided in discriminating event rates, notably among offspring with intermediate levels of cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as intermediate predicted multivariable risk.

Conclusions: Using validated events, we found that parental cardiovascular disease independently predicted future offspring events in middle-aged adults. Addition of parental information may help clinicians and patients with primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, when treatment decisions may be difficult in patients at intermediate risk based on levels of single or multiple risk factors. These data also support further research into genetic determinants of cardiovascular risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult Children*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / genetics
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • ROC Curve
  • Risk Factors