Are you at risk of this devastating 'secret' heart condition?

A lot of things run in families. Red hair, freckles, a certain smile -- sometimes, you look at two people, and you can tell right away they're related.

There are hundreds of other traits you can't see, hidden links to each other that help make a family what it is.

But not all of those shared traits are pleasant.

Unfortunately, health risks can also run in families -- and the latest research spots one genetic trait that could turn out to be deadly.

It's called aortic dissection, or when your largest artery suddenly rips open. Think of it as when the garden house suddenly tears while the water's running -- because that's not far from what's happening in your body in this case.

Instead of leaking water, an aortic dissection causes major internal bleeding.

And if someone in your family had it, you not only have a higher risk of this condition... but you have a higher risk of suffering from it at roughly the same age.

While the condition is often rare, having a relative who suffered an aortic dissection or an aortic aneurism -- a bulge in that "hose" that can lead to a rupture -- jumps to as high as one in 8.

That sure can sound frightening when you see some of the stats: Aortic dissection kills up to 40 percent of the patients who develop it.

Fortunately, there are some ways to bring those odds in your favor.

Most of the deaths from this condition are because people don't seek help in time. In fact, half of those who die do so before they even reach the hospital.

If you know the warning signs and seek help, emergency surgery has a very high success rate.

The key warning is sudden and severe pain in the chest and upper back. Don't wait for it to pass; even if it's not a rupture it could be a sign of heart attack or something equally serious.

Get help, especially if you have a family history of this condition.

And whether you're at risk or not, there are some steps you can take right now to help make sure you never suffer from this condition, starting with plain old-fashioned clean living.

Two of the key risk factors for aortic dissection are the same risk factors behind so many other heart problems: hardening arteries and rising blood pressure.

Keep those two under control, and your risk of heart disease, heart attack, aortic aneurism, and more will all plunge.

The best way to do that is with a diet proven to protect your heart better than anything else out there, and I've got the inside scoop on this groundbreaking science-backed lifestyle in this month's edition of my subscription newsletter, Health Revelations.

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