The family health history records the illnesses that have affected blood relatives such as parents, grandparents, siblings and children.

These conditions can include illnesses, disorders and other conditions which may have been passed on in your family.

You might also want to include information on your family members’ lifestyles and their exposure to environmental factors.

It is important to know your family health history because it will give you an idea of the risk that you may face in developing certain conditions. Your doctor can give you better advice and care based on the specifics of your family history.

What information to collect

You’ll want as much information as possible, whether you are filling out a form from your healthcare provider or collecting it yourself.

This contains any .

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Asthma, allergies and
  • Birth defects (cleft lip, heart defects, spina bifida)
  • Blindness/vision loss
  • Cancer (breast, ovarian, colon, prostate)
  • Current and Past Medication
  • Deafness/hearing loss at a young age
  • Developmental delay/learning disorders
  • Diabetes/sugar disease
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • History and techniques of surgery
  • Immunizations
  • Mental health disorders (depression, schizophrenia)
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy: (number, number of children, complications, miscarriages)
  • Stroke
  • Substance Abuse (alcohol and drugs)

Your doctor might also want to ask you:

  • Age of onset of symptoms
  • ethnicity
  • If deceased, what was the cause of death
  • lifestyle factors (exercise, habits, diet, occupation)

While you may not be able collect information on every illness or condition that affects your family members, the more data you have, the better.

Collecting Information

Some people find it difficult to share health information. Asking your family about their health can be a sensitive and patient task.

Although privacy is important to you, this information may help you or your family members stay healthy in the future.

Some people enjoy a conversation that is full of emotions, sharing, and reminiscing. Some people prefer a clinical approach to gathering information, such as filling out forms or gathering data. Think about your relationship with the person you are contacting and what they may respond to.

Medical records, death certificates or other official documents can provide you with information that is useful to your doctor or yourself.

Keep your information organized and safe. Create a family tree, or use an app or computer program to keep track of your information.

Talk to different relatives on several occasions. You will be able to get a full picture of the health history of your family and make sure that nothing is overlooked.

The health history of your family is only one factor in determining the overall risk you face for developing a condition or disease. Other factors play an important role.

You should not be anxious or worried by this information. It should instead help you make better decisions about your health, and work with your healthcare provider on a customized plan of preventive care.

Speak to your doctor if you are worried about getting a disease. You can learn about your risks and how to lower them.

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