Families share risks for certain diseases, for example Alzheimer's,
depression, diabetes, and heart disease. Family history does not mean
that you will automatically develop them, only that you are at somewhat
greater risk. Most illnesses are not due solely to genetic factors.
Why is it important to know your family history?
Knowledge is power! You can take important steps to lower your risk even
if you have a family history. This may mean lifestyle changes, such as
increasing your physical activity, changing your diet, or not smoking;
preventative measures; or disease screenings.
Use an online health history tool from any of these reputable websites.
WHO to include?
Include three generations of relatives when filling out your health history.
That's you and your siblings, your parents, aunts, uncles and cousins,
and your grandparents.
WHAT to include?
- Known diseases, age at diagnosis and treatments
- Cause of death and age at death
- Lifestyle factors, such as smoking or obesity
- Ancestry (people of certain ethnic groups are at higher risks for certain diseases)
- Other environmental factors (such as chemical exposure)
Bring your health history form to your next doctor's appointment and
have a conversation with your physician about what tests and screenings
may be right for you, and what steps you may need to take to reduce your risk.