Your Family’s Past May Reveal Your Future

How well do you know your family’s health history?  Can you name any medical conditions that your grandparents dealt with during their lives? Do you know the cause of death for any close relatives?

If you’re like most people, you don’t have a thorough understanding of your family’s health history and have never thought to write down that history and share it with your healthcare providers. A recent survey found that only about one-third of Americans have ever tried to gather and record their family’s health history.

Collecting and sharing your family health history may save your life. Risks for some common health conditions (such as heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer) and causes of rare diseases (such as hemophilia, cystic fibrosis, and sickle-cell anemia) can run in families.

Identifying the illnesses suffered by your parents, grandparents, and other blood relatives can help your doctor predict your risk for certain medical problems so you can take action to keep yourself and your family healthy.

What is a family health history? A family health history is a record of health information about a person and his or her close relatives. A complete record includes information from three generations of relatives, including children, brothers and sisters, parents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, grandparents, and cousins.

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