A normal part of any initial consultation with a healthcare provider is giving them a detailed family medical history. It is no mere stroll down Memory Lane: the family medical history contains a wealth of information that can guide your healthcare.
Why is the family medical history important?
Many diseases, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, arthritis, and certain types of cancer, “run in families.” Diseases and chronic conditions are often caused by an interplay of genetics and environmental factors. Families tend to share both.
Telling your medical practitioner about any health conditions your relatives have had enables them to provide you with better healthcare in two ways: they can recommend ways for you to reduce your own risk of the condition, and they can also keep an eye out for the appearance of symptoms of specific problems that run in your family.
What information is included in a family medical history?
In order to give the most helpful medical history, it is important to know:
· If any of your blood relatives, including siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles have had any chronic conditions or diseases
· The age at which they were diagnosed
· The age and cause of death, if appropriate, of each relative
How do I get all the information required for my family medical history?
Most people don’t have all this information at their fingertips, so it is often necessary to do some research. This can be as simple as asking family members, especially older family members. If that doesn’t work — and especially if you suspect there is a family history of medical problems — it might be worthwhile to research family medical records and death certificates.
How do I store my family medical history?
Once you have gathered your family history, don’t rely on your memory; write it down so that you have easy access to it anytime it is required.
How can you do that? Paper and pen work, as does any computer word processing program; however, if you want to have easy access to your information at all times, consider using the web-based tool developed by the office of the Surgeon General. Called My Family Health Portrait, the program not only helps you collect and store family history, it also allows you to send a partially completed medical history to other family members, who can fill in whatever information they have. The information is not shared with anyone other than the people you choose.
You can access My Family Health Portrait here.
Whether a condition that runs in your family is caused by nature or nurture, it’s in your interest to have as complete a family medical history as possible. Take the time to gather accurate information. It’s an important part of keeping yourself — and your loved ones — healthy.
At Atlantic Coast Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Lakewood, NJ, we gather all the information necessary to ensure the best outcomes for our residents. And we maintain a positive and upbeat atmosphere, enhancing happiness while maximizing health.
Or better yet, come see for yourself: Contact us to schedule a tour by calling 732-364-7100, or by clicking here.