Relation of risk factor levels in young adulthood to parental history of disease: The CARDIA study

Gregory L. Burke, Peter J. Savage, J. Michael Sprafka, Joseph V. Selby, David R Jacobs Jr, Laura L. Perkins, Jeffrey M. Roseman, Glenn H. Hughes, Richard R. Fabsitz

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95 Scopus citations


Background. The relation between self-reported parental disease and risk factor levels was examined in 2,637 black and 2,478 white men and women aged 18-30 years at the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study baseline examination (1985-1986). Methods and Results. The prevalence of parental disease (at least one parent) in white versus black participants was 44% and 56% for hypertension, 47% and 44% for obesity, 16% and 13% for myocardial infarction, 11% and 17% for diabetes, and 6% and 10% for stroke, respectively. Among these young adults, parental hypertension was associated with higher sex- and age-adjusted systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels. Parental myocardial infarction was associated with higher plasma cholesterol, higher blood pressure levels, and lower high density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in white participants. Parental diabetes was associated with higher fasting blood glucose and insulin levels in all race-sex groups and with higher triglycerides and lower high density lipoprotein cholesterol in black participants only. Parental history of obesity was related to less favorable age- and sex-adjusted lipid levels in white participants and higher blood pressure levels in black participants. Parental history of stroke was associated with higher systolic blood pressure levels in black participants. In general, these differences across family history were predicted only in part by obesity. The prevalence of more than one disease reported in parents occurred more frequently than would have been expected due to chance alone. Conclusions. These associations between parental disease and risk factors in their adult children probably reflects the impact of both environmental and genetic factors. Parental history may be a useful marker for high risk individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1176-1187
Number of pages12
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1991


  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Epidemiology
  • Family history
  • Risk factors


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