On your family health history or family medical history as it is sometimes called, you will search for relevant health information on each person listed. It is simply a record of diseases and medical conditions that affect your family members. From each of your parents you inherited half of your genetic profile, perhaps including the increased risk of having certain medical conditions. A family medical history can be a tool for your doctor to interpret your family’s disease history and identify patterns that may be important to your health.
Family Health History
Health care professionals have known for a long time that common diseases – heart disease, cancer, and diabetes – and rare diseases – like hemophilia, cystic fibrosis, and sickle cell anemia – can run in families. If one generation of a family has high blood pressure, it is not unusual for the next generation to have similarly high blood pressure. Tracing the illnesses suffered by your parents, grandparents, and other blood relatives can help your doctor predict the disorders to which you may be at risk and take action to keep you and your family healthy. A family medical history cannot predict whether you will be healthy in the future, it will only provide information on your risk, the odds of getting a disease. Additional factors like your weight, amount of exercise, diet and environmental factors will also affect the odds.
For more information from the Surgeon General’s Family Health History Initiative click here.
Your family may want to work together on family health histories for all family members. This is the ideal scenario where everyone is equally vested in the effort. Unfortunately, this is rare. Many times you will have to do a little sleuthing on your own, and it may not be easy. Share with family members why you are working on a family medical history for yourself and your nuclear family; this is a two-way street so be as ready to share your health history as you hope that they will be. If you are adopted, ask your adoptive parents if they have any medical history or concerns about your biological parents.