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Your Family Health History – Here’s an Easy Way to Collect It

Knowing your family health history can help your healthcare provider provide better care for you. It’s helpful in letting them know which medical tests to suggest for detecting early warning signs of certain diseases.

Doctors can try to prevent a disease or treat it as soon as possible with early testing.know your family health history

Your Family Health History

Get to know your family better this holiday season by talking about the health history of your family. Are there health conditions that seem to run in your family? For example, have many people in your family had a heart attack, cancer, diabetes, or anything other adverse health conditions?

Now is the time to find out.  Ask your parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and other blood relatives about all the adverse health conditions they might have had.  Later, you can share it with your healthcare provider.

Common diseases like as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer often run in families. Rare diseases like as sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, and hemophilia, can run in families as well.

The U.S. Surgeon General and the Department of Health and Human Services suggest that sharing your family health history with your healthcare provider is a powerful screening tool and a key component to personalized healthcare.

Healthcare providers will be better able to predict risk for disease and make vital screening and treatment decisions before any disease is evident.

My Portrait

My Family Health Portrait is the Web-based tool from National Human Genome Research Institute and the U.S. Surgeon General’s Family History Initiative that helps you create your own family health history.

Using any computer, you’ll be able to provide your health information to build a drawing of your family tree and a chart of your family health history. The drawing and the chart can be printed and shared with your family members and your physician.

Tracing the illnesses suffered by your grandparents, parents, and other blood relatives can help your doctor predict the disorders you may be at risk — and help you take action to keep you and your family healthy.

About The Initiative

In November 2004 — and to coincide with Thanksgiving, when families traditionally gather — U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched a national public health campaign called the U.S. Surgeon General’s Family History Initiative.

The campaign focused attention on the importance of the family health history, and encouraged all families to learn more about their family health history. To help with this, the initiative launched My Family Health Portrait — a downloadable tool for use on a personal computer. In November 2005, U.S. Surgeon General Carmona furthered this initiative by launching the new — easier-to-use Web-based tool — My Family Health Portrait.

This online tool makes it easy to collect the information in one place. It’s fast and easy to fill out.  It takes about 15 to 30 minutes.

The online tool is private. It doesn’t keep a record of your data. It’s available only to you for downloading or printing. After that, it’s up to you whether you want to share the information with family members or provide it to your healthcare team.

The tool is available in English, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. Give the gift of health this holiday season. Share it with your family.

Knowing your family health history can help save your life and those, you love.

About the author: George Zapo, CPH is certified in Public Health Promotion and Education (Kent State University). George focuses on providing informative articles promoting healthy behavior and lifestyles.

2 comments… add one
  • Carolyn Coleman Grady

    Excellent information. Heath knowledge and understanding is significant to each of us. History is so important it can facilitate future risk of health challenges. I loved your blog. My Family Health Portrait. Wow, I can see lots of people healed from preventive care. Thank you

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