Why It’s Important to Know Your Family Health History

Health & Safety Tips

Nov 12, 2021


Knowing your family health history is vitally important for understanding your risk of developing certain genetic conditions such as high cholesterol, cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular heart disease, and stroke. Though most of these diseases are influenced by much more than your genetics, collecting your family health history can help you and your doctor create a lifestyle plan that works to minimize your chances of developing health conditions your genetics may make you prone to.

The medical team at Complete Care is here to share several reasons why you should know your family health history and what you can do to collect that information.

Why is health history important?

Your family health history is a record of all of the chronic diseases, disorders, and health conditions that your family members have dealt with. This information is important because your genetics play a role in the disorders and diseases you may develop over time. Because the habits you saw growing up play such a strong role in who you become, chances are, your lifestyle choices are similar to those of your family. These factors are just as important as the diseases themselves.

If one of your family members developed a disease, then you may be more genetically prone to develop it as well. For example, if several of your close family members have had to deal with a hypertensive emergency, that may be something you need to be aware of for yourself. You can set goals that help you keep healthy blood pressure, run specific tests to check on variables that indicate high blood pressure, and regularly check in with your doctor.

Your risk of developing certain health conditions goes beyond genetics

Keep in mind that having a risk for specific health conditions does not mean you will definitely develop that condition. Factors such as your lifestyle choices, exercise, environment, and stress levels can contribute to developing a chronic disease. Diabetes is a great example of this. Does eating sugar cause diabetes? Not necessarily. But when someone who lives a sedentary lifestyle and is genetically predisposed to diabetes eats a diet high in sugar, they may be more likely to develop the disease.

What’s included in a patient’s family history?

When gathering your family history, you’ll want to talk to as many family members as you can including your biological parents, siblings, grandparents, children, aunts and uncles, and nieces and nephews. This will include asking them about health conditions like:

  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Heart disease
  • Blood clots
  • Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Cancers
  • High blood pressure (Read more on what to do for high blood pressure)
  • High cholesterol
  • Stroke (Here are stroke symptoms to watch for)

You’re really wanting to gather a collection of your family health history that gives you a snapshot of any major medical issues, causes of death, and the age the individual developed the health condition.

How to find out your family health history

The easiest way to figure out your medical history is by asking your family members. Biological grandparents are a great place to start because they may have insight into the health of other family members. Family gatherings or holidays are also a great place to start collecting information. If you don’t have many relatives living, you can check for death certificates or old medical records.

Although it can be quite tedious to put together the pieces of your family’s history, sharing this information with your doctor will improve the quality of care you can receive.

Family medical history questions

Unsure what to ask your family members about their health history? Here are some example questions to get you started:

  • What was [family member]’s cause of death and how old were they when they died?
  • Do you or any other relatives have chronic diseases, disorders, or conditions? How old were you/they when they were diagnosed?
  • What types of health conditions run in our family?
  • Has there been a history of miscarriage or genetic conditions including birth defects?

Curious to know what your family health history means for you? Head into a Complete Care 24/7 ER.

If you’ve found yourself asking questions like, “Why do I have high cholesterol?” the answer may be a part of your family health history. Knowing your health history is a vital step in preventing and treating chronic conditions.

Not sure how your family health history relates to your own health? Worried about your risk for a specific condition? Complete Care’s team of medical professionals is here to help. We are a 24/7 walk-in ER that has the capabilities to run various tests and imaging to help diagnose your symptoms. Visit one of our locations today!

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