The Importance of Family: Family Health History

Families come in all shapes and sizes. In addition to sharing physical traits with family members, you may also share genes that affect your health. A complete family medical history has many benefits for all family members. If you have not compiled a family health history yet, get started today.Dad and adult daughter

Benefits of a Family Health History

  • Your doctor can better assess risk for certain diseases.
  • Your doctor can recommend better diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits to keep you healthy.
  • Your doctor can order diagnostic tests based on family history.
  • Your doctor can recommend regular screenings that could catch problems early.
  • Your doctor will be on the lookout for early warning signs based on family history.
  • Your doctor may be able to diagnose a condition that would have gone otherwise undetected.
  • Your doctor can explain the risk for passing genetic conditions on to your own offspring.

How to Gather Family Health History
The Surgeon General’s “My Family Health Portrait”
is an online tool that can help you gather and organize your family’s health data. This private program does not store your information or share it with any other parties. A basic family health history can be entered in approximately 20 minutes. If you share your information with other family members and have them share theirs you can build a comprehensive picture of your family health history. Sharing this information with your health care provider can greatly improve your quality of care. The online tool is in a format that is designed to work with the electronic formats of most healthcare providers. This tool will not give you medical advice. All health questions should be directed to your doctor. If you need assistance using this tool, contact ncicb@pop.nci.nih.gov or call (888) 478- 4423 (toll free) to get your questions answered. Click here to get started on “My Family Health Portrait.”

Sharing Your Family Health History
Family members may be concerned about privacy issues when sharing personal health information. Have a discussion with family to determine a comfort level. Remind family of the numerous benefits of a full family health history. Be sure to respect the privacy of any family members who do not wish to be included.

Learn more about why a family medical history is so important by visiting us online. After you have completed your family health history, come in to Regional Medical Center and share it with your healthcare team. Your doctor can begin to evaluate your health risks and design a healthcare plan just for you!

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