“A family medical history is a record of health information about a person and his or her close relatives. A complete record includes information from three generations of…”.1

Umbrella
What may the Family Medical History Umbrella include?

Depending on the Source (DotS) this Umbrella may include:

  • Family Health History
  • Family Health Portrait
  • Family History
  • Family History of Disease
  • Family Medical History
  • Family Tree for Health

Family Medical History

What is a family medical history?

DotS the definition of a family medical history may vary. In Why Is It Important To Know My Family Medical History? the (United States) Genetic Home Reference’s definition is:

“A family medical history is a record of health information about a person and his or her close relatives. A complete record includes information from three generations of relatives, including children, brothers and sisters, parents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, grandparents, and cousins”.2

Family Health History

What is a family health history?

DotS the definition of a family health history may vary. In Family Health History: The Basics – What Is Family Health History? the (United States) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) definition is:

“Family health history is a record of the diseases and health conditions in your family. You and your family members share genes. You may also have behaviors in common, such as exercise habits and what you like to eat. You may live in the same area and come into contact with similar things in the environment. Family history includes all of these factors, any of which can affect your health”.3

How

How can I keep track of my family medical history?

In Five Minutes (or Less) for Health: More Than Five Minutes And Worth It – Know Your Family’s Health History the CDC explain:

“If you have a close relative with a chronic disease, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer, then you could have an increased risk for developing that disease. Keep track of your family health history by writing down the health conditions of each family member. Take a few minutes to update this information from time to time. This way, you’ll have organized and accurate information ready to share with your health care provider. Family health history can help him/her determine which tests and screenings you should have. In many cases, adopting a healthier lifestyle can lower your risk for diseases that run in your family”.4

Tool

Is there a tool in which I can enter my family medical history?

The (United States) Surgeon General provides the tool My Family Health Portrait in which you can enter your family health history.

Important or Not

Is it important to know my family medical history?

Yes. In Why Is It Important To Know My Family Medical History? the Genetic Home Reference elaborate on:

“A family medical history can identify people with a higher-than-usual chance of having common disorders, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, certain cancers, and diabetes. These complex disorders are influenced by a combination of genetic factors, environmental conditions, and lifestyle choices. A family history also can provide information about the risk of rarer conditions caused by mutations in a single gene, such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease”.5

The Genetic Home Reference also note:

“While a family medical history provides information about the risk of specific health concerns, having relatives with a medical condition does not mean that an individual will definitely develop that condition. On the other hand, a person with no family history of a disorder may still be at risk of developing that disorder”.6

In Family Health History: The Basics – Why Is Family Health History Important for My Health? the CDC explain:

“Most people have a family health history of at least one chronic disease, such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. If you have a close family member with a chronic disease, you may be more likely to develop that disease yourself, especially if more than one close relative has (or had) the disease or a family member got the disease at a younger age than usual”.7

Prevention

Is there an association between prevention and family medical history?

In Family Health History: The Basics – How Can I Use My Family Health History To Improve My Health? the CDC explain:

“You can’t change your genes, but you can change unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, not exercising or being active, and poor eating habits. If you have a family health history of disease, you may have the most to gain from lifestyle changes and screening tests. In many cases, healthy living habits can reduce your risk for diseases that run in your family. Screening tests, such as blood sugar testing, mammograms, and colorectal cancer screening, help find early signs of disease. Finding disease early can often mean better health in the long run”.8

In Why Is It Important To Know My Family Medical History? the Genetic Home Reference note:

“Knowing one’s family medical history allows a person to take steps to reduce his or her risk. For people at an increased risk of certain cancers, healthcare professionals may recommend more frequent screening (such as mammography or colonoscopy) starting at an earlier age. Healthcare providers may also encourage regular checkups or testing for people with a medical condition that runs in their family. Additionally, lifestyle changes such as adopting a healthier diet, getting regular exercise, and quitting smoking help many people lower their chances of developing heart disease and other common illnesses”.9

Act

As a result of my family history, how can I act?

In Family Health History: The Basics – Knowing Is Not Enough–Act on Your Family Health History! the CDC elaborate on:

Family Medical History

  • “Has your mother or sister had breast cancer? Talk with your doctor about whether having a mammogram earlier is right for you
  • Does your mom, dad, sister, or brother have diabetes? Ask your doctor how early you should be screened for diabetes
  • Did your mom, dad, brother, or sister get colorectal (colon) cancer before age 50? Talk with your doctor about whether you should start getting colonoscopies earlier or have them done more often”.10

Health Care Provider

Is it important to share my family medical history with my health care provider?

It may be in your best interest to choose to share your family medical history with your health care provider.

In Family Health History: The Basics – Why Is Family Health History Important for My Health? the CDC explain:

“Collect your family health history information before visiting the doctor, and take it with you. Even if you don’t know all of your family health history information, share what you do know. Family health history information, even if incomplete, can help your doctor decide which screening tests you need and when those tests should start”.11

In Why Is It Important To Know My Family Medical History? the Genetic Home Reference elaborate on:

“The easiest way to get information about family medical history is to talk to relatives about their health. Have they had any medical problems, and when did they occur? A family gathering could be a good time to discuss these issues. Additionally, obtaining medical records and other documents (such as obituaries and death certificates) can help complete a family medical history. It is important to keep this information up-to-date and to share it with a healthcare professional regularly”.12

Health Topics A-Z

Where may I find Health Topics related to Family Medical History?

In Health Topics A-Z you may find:

Links

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Sources

Where may I find the Sources quoted?

You may find the Sources quoted at:

Sources

  1. Why Is It Important To Know My Family Medical History? Published: 12 May 2020. Genetics Home Reference https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/inheritance/familyhistory Accessed: 24 May 2020
  2. Why Is It Important To Know My Family Medical History? Published: 12 May 2020. Genetics Home Reference https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/inheritance/familyhistory Accessed: 24 May 2020
  3. Family Health History: The Basics – What Is Family Health History? Page Last Reviewed: 03 October 2019. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/genomics/famhistory/famhist_basics.htm Accessed: 24 May 2020
  4. Five Minutes (or Less) for Health: More Than Five Minutes And Worth It – Know Your Family’s Health History. Page Last Reviewed: 23 December 2015. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/family/minutes/index.htm Accessed: 24 May 2020
  5. Why Is It Important To Know My Family Medical History? Published: 12 May 2020. Genetics Home Reference https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/inheritance/familyhistory Accessed: 24 May 2020
  6. Why Is It Important To Know My Family Medical History? Published: 12 May 2020. Genetics Home Reference https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/inheritance/familyhistory Accessed: 24 May 2020
  7. Family Health History: The Basics – Why Is Family Health History Important for My Health? Page Last Reviewed: 03 October 2019. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/genomics/famhistory/famhist_basics.htm Accessed: 24 May 2020
  8. Family Health History: The Basics – How Can I Use My Family Health History To Improve My Health? Page Last Reviewed: 03 October 2019. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/genomics/famhistory/famhist_basics.htm Accessed: 24 May 2020
  9. Why Is It Important To Know My Family Medical History? Published: 12 May 2020. Genetics Home Reference https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/inheritance/familyhistory Accessed: 24 May 2020
  10. Family Health History: The Basics – Knowing Is Not Enough–Act on Your Family Health History! Page Last Reviewed: 03 October 2019. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/genomics/famhistory/famhist_basics.htm Accessed: 24 May 2020
  11. Family Health History: The Basics – Why Is Family Health History Important for My Health? Page Last Reviewed: 03 October 2019. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/genomics/famhistory/famhist_basics.htm Accessed: 24 May 2020
  12. Why Is It Important To Know My Family Medical History? Published: 12 May 2020. Genetics Home Reference https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/inheritance/familyhistory Accessed: 24 May 2020
Topic Last Updated: 24 May 2020 – Topic Last Reviewed: 24 May 2020
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