Family medical history can be a major indicator of whether or not you will develop certain diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, stroke and heart disease. In other words, if one of your family members has heart disease (or has died from heart disease), you are at increased risk of also developing heart disease. That is why it's important to know your family medical history.
Recording Your Family Medical History
The best way to get information about your family medical history is to talk to your close relatives (parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.). Ask about any family history of heart disease, cancer, diabetes or stroke. If possible, also look at family death certificates.
If you are adopted, contact your state's health and social service agency for help.
Record the information you collect, and share it with your doctor, your siblings and your children.
Knowing Your Family History Can Lower Your Risk
Just being aware that you have a family history of a certain disease can help you make decisions to lower your risk of developing that disease. In some cases, improving your diet can lower your risk. Regular exercise has been known to decrease your risk of developing certain conditions, including heart disease. And quitting smoking is always a good idea – both to reduce your risk of certain diseases and to improve your health overall.