Understand your family health history for your health

Know your family health history

The time we spend with loved ones provides an opportunity to start a conversation about your family health history.

If you’ve ever created a family tree, you know that your family is made up of people with all kinds of backgrounds. (Who knew that great-uncle Roger was a magician?) The same goes for their medical history and that’s important to know when it comes to your own health.

Some diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, can be passed down genetically. Knowing if you’re at risk for them can help you determine ways to reduce the risk or even lessen the severity of the disease.

The Office of the Surgeon General developed My Family Health Portrait, an online tool to create and save a record of your family health history. Get started with a Health Portrait as you’re waiting for the turkey to finish cooking this Thanksgiving. Pull a family member aside and get some basic information from them including:

  • Date of birth
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Any current diseases or conditions (including the age they were diagnosed)

Once you’ve created a record of your family health history, be sure to share it with your doctor. Understanding that information now can help you determine possible courses of actions you may need to take later.

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