Multifactorial

Many of the most common health conditions, such as heart disease and stroke, are considered to be multifactorial. This essentially means that there are many things that determine whether or not they will develop the medical condition.

Diabetes, for example, is likely caused by a mixture of genetics, lifestyle choices, and environment. However, how much genetics affects one’s risk may vary family to family. For example, if Jay has three relatives who have diabetes, his risk may higher to develop diabetes than Anne, who has no family history of diabetes.

With multifactorial conditions, heredity may offer some information as to someone’s risk, but it is complex and our understanding of this is constantly evolving. Some common multifactorial conditions are:

  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • arthritis
  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • cancer
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • thyroid disorders
  • some birth defects, such as cleft lip and/or palate, spina bifida, and heart defects

A genetic counselor can review your personal and family history, and can sometimes provide more insight into what your specific risk might be.

 

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Last updated on Jul 19th, 2018