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Researching Your Family Health History

Knowing your family health history is an important part of optimizing your health or a loved one’s health. Many chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and even depression are known to have a genetic tie. Therefore, if your relatives are diagnosed with these or other conditions you may be more prone to them as well. This is why sharing this information with your chosen primary provider is so important. Wondering how to research family health history? Here are some tips to get you started:

Ask questions.

Begin by asking immediate family members like parents, grandparents and siblings if they are aware of relatives who have been diagnosed with genetic or chronic conditions. This is a good place to start because at the very least you will discover what conditions they may have that could indicate you are predisposed to them as well.

Take advantage of family gatherings.

The health history of more distant relatives isn’t always as simple to uncover, often because we aren’t interacting as often due to proximity or even just the business of life. A few years ago my father died very unexpectedly of a heart attack. I was in shock because to my knowledge he had always been very healthy, exercised daily and ate a very healthy diet. What I found out from my aunts while gathering for his funeral was that all of them had been diagnosed with high cholesterol in their early to mid sixties. One of my aunts had even had stents placed because of blockages in her coronary arteries. This is extremely important information for me to be aware of in managing my own health and it is something my father didn’t think to share with me or maybe even know about himself. My aunts do not live close to me so I don’t have opportunities to have conversations with them often. It may not seem like the most natural conversation to have but asking questions about the health of your relatives is undoubtedly vital information to have and worth going outside of your comfort zone in a conversation.

Write it down.

When you have uncovered information about your family history, compile it in an organized fashion and save it in a place where it is easily accessible in an emergency. The website will be a secure place to do just that and will be ready soon. Until then, here is a document to assist you in gathering the information that will help you take control of your health and become and active member of your care team.

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