Diseases such as heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, sickle cell anemia and cystic fibrosis can run in families. For this reason, it is important to be aware of your family’s medical history. When you’re aware, you can predict which diseases you are at risk for and take preventive action.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, though, only 1/3 of Americans have gathered their family’s health history. But what is a family health history? It’s a written record of diseases and other health conditions present throughout three generations of your biological relatives, including parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, aunts, etc. What information do you need to collect?
- Relation of relative to you
- Disease or other health condition present
- Age of diagnosis
- Age and cause of death
The best way to gather this health history is by talking with relatives. Be sure to update the information from time to time, and share it with your relatives. Perhaps most importantly, though, share your family health history with your physician. This information may help him or her determine which tests and screenings might be most appropriate for you.
To create your family’s healthy history electronically, log on to https://familyhistory.hhs.gov.
Sources: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention