Diseases such as diabetes, asthma, cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer’s and cancer are known to run in families. Members of your family share certain genetic traits that can serve as clues in assessing your risk of developing hereditary diseases. That is why it is important to know your family’s medical history.
The more you know about your family’s medical history, the better. Try to gather as much information as you can from blood relatives. You can do so by reaching out and letting family members know why you are collecting this information.
When gathering your family’s medical history, there are a few key components you should include. They are:
- Major medical issues and conditions that run in the family
- Age of onset ( When each member of your family was diagnosed with a medical condition)
- Causes of death
- Ethnic backgrounds ( Some ethnicities are more at risk for developing certain diseases than others)
- Environment ( Families may share common environments that can have an impact on their health)
If you are unable to obtain this information from family members, documents such as death certificates may provide some answers.
Be sure to record information in a safe place and share it with other members of your family. You should also share the information collected with your doctor who may recommend screening tests for conditions you may be at risk for developing.
Although you cannot change your genetic makeup, knowing your family’s history can help you take the steps needed to reduce your risk of inherited diseases. If applicable, you can stop smoking, lose weight change your diet, exercise more frequently or reduce the amount of alcohol you consume to lower your risk.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.