Your family medical history consists of health information regarding your close relatives. Three generations are required for a complete record. This includes your parents, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, cousins, grandparents and children.
Families have commonalities including their lifestyle, environment and genes. These factors provide clues regarding the medical history of the family. Certain conditions will run in the family and provide patterns of illnesses or diseases. This helps healthcare professionals determine which diseases present an increased risk for future generations.
Your family history can help identify a higher risk for certain disorders including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer and stroke. These disorders are influenced by your genetics including your lifestyle and environment. Your history also provides information regarding risk factors associated with specific gene mutations such as sickle cell disease and cystic fibrosis.
Although your family members may have been diagnosed with certain health conditions, this does not mean you will have the same health concerns. In some cases, once your physician is aware of your family history, there are certain preventative measures you can use to decrease you risk of developing specific disorders.
Understanding your family medical history provides the opportunity to change certain aspects of your lifestyle. You may need to see your healthcare professional more often, participate in regular screenings or have additional testing. You can help prevent numerous illnesses including heart disease by changing your lifestyle. This includes quitting smoking, getting regular exercise or eating a healthier diet.
Talking to your relatives is the best way to learn about your family history. You may be having certain symptoms and be unaware of their meaning. Once you learn specific diseases or illnesses are prevalent in your family, it may help you realize what your symptoms mean. It is also easier for a medical professional to correctly interpret certain symptoms when they are familiar with your family history. It is extremely important to keep this information current at all times.
You family history has become even more important because the genetic DNA code is now being mapped. Of the 10,000 known diseases, geneticists believe approximately 3,000 can be passed through family generations. In the not too distant future, DNA tests will be capable of determining what diseases you are at the highest risk for based on your genes. This includes heart disease, colon cancer, high blood pressure, alcoholism and many more. Your physician will use your family medical history as the basis for determining, which tests you, or your children should take. These tests identify potentially harmful genes and require a thorough and current family medical history.
Keeping your family medical history current is vital for decreasing health risks and determining the correct preventative measures.