West Valley Medical Center - November 09, 2018

Ask these relatives about their family history: 1. Immediate family - parents, siblings, your children; 2. Extended family - grandparents, aunts, uncles, neices, nephews, half-siblings; 3. Far extended family - cousins, great aunts, great uncles, great grandparents

Source: US Surgeon General

The holidays are just around the corner. That means families will be gathering for big hugs and big meals. Sometimes, you haven't seen these relatives in years and you may not see them again for a while after.

Because so many of your relatives are gathered in one spot, this is a good time to gather some information on a topic that's important your family medical history. The discussion may not be easy, but it could save your life.

Yes, you want to keep the vibe upbeat during the holidays. But chances are, you'll be talking about relatives come and gone anyway. Because family medical history is so important to your own health, slipping in a few life-saving questions is well worth it:

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 96% of Americans say family medical history is important but only 33% have actually tried to write it down.

Questions to Ask When Gathering Your Family Medical History

Health conditions that run in families include: cancer, heart disease, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, asthma, muscular dystrophy, high blood pressure, sickle cell disease, hemophilia

Source: US Surgeon General

The goal is to look for patterns so you can understand what runs in your family, as well as how early and how severe the conditions tend to be. This information is the key to early detection for your own health.

For example, if several people have a history of heart disease, talk to your doctor about checking your cholesterol more frequently.

You'll want to ask your relatives about their health and the health of deceased relatives.

Four Tips to Keep in Mind When Gathering Your Family History

1. Some family members may not want to share

After all, this is personal information. If you come across a reluctant relative, you may want to talk with them in private. Explaining why you're gathering this information to help the next generation can give them more incentive to open up.

Basic family medical history questions include: have you ever been diagnosed with a medical condition? Have these medical conditions caused complications, such as heart disease causing heart attacks? When were you diagnosed? Have you ever had any pregnancy complications, such as miscarriages? For deceased relatives - what was the cause of death? How old were they when they passed away? What medications/treatments were used for those medical conditions? Source: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Surgeon General

2. Talk to people one-on-one

Researching your family medical history may reveal secrets and can cause distress. Like finding out someone you thought was a blood relative was really adopted. If you're talking one-on-one, these conflicts are less likely to become public spectacles.

3. Write it down

You'll get a lot of information and remembering it all will be tough. Write it down so you can share it with your doctor or with your family after you gathered enough information. You can also use the U.S. Surgeon General's My Family Health Portrait Tool to stay organized.

4. Share it with your doctor

For many medical conditions, early detection and treatment are key. The goal is to find patterns that your doctor can use to detect and protect you from future disease. Knowing your family medical history can determine when you should start medical screenings for certain diseases.

Once you gather this information, schedule an appointment with a West Valley doctor to discuss medical history and options for early detection.

Talk to a Doc

November 13, 2018
You and your family have decided to take a holiday road trip together. You envision scenic snowy routes, countless rounds of the alphabet game...

1 min Read Time

Previous Post