Friday, September 10, 2010

Creating a Family Health History

A family health history is a written record of a family's health. The history contains information about a family's medical conditions, lifestyle habits (for example, whether anyone in the family has smoked), and where and how family members grew up. It's like a family tree for health.

You can use a family health history to see if you, your children, or your grandchildren might face an increased risk of developing serious health problems. These health problems might be common ones, such as heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. They could also be less common diseases that are passed from one generation to the next, such as hemophilia or sickle cell anemia.

Many diseases result from a combination of a person's genes, lifestyle, and environment. People can't change the genes they inherit from their parents. But they can change things like diet, physical activity, and medical care to try to prevent diseases that run in the family.

A health care professional can use a family health history to help assess a person's risk of certain diseases. The health care professional might recommend actions to lower the chance of getting those diseases.

For more information, visit Creating a Family Health History from the National Institute on Aging and the National Library of Medicine.