October is Family History Month, a designation to remind us all to learn more about our ancestors and how their lives lead us to where we are today. Most of us enjoy hearing stories about our grandparents from their younger years, but one story that is often neglected to be shared is the story of our ancestors’ health. Sure, none of us like discussing times of illness or what lead to the death of a loved one but knowing and understanding the health conditions that affected our family members could be life-saving.
Your family’s medical history can help you reduce your risk of developing the same health conditions your relatives had.
Many families share signature genes like curly, dark hair or bright, green eyes that show relation to one another. But did you know you also share genes affecting your health with everyone in your family, including your grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings? Diseases like asthma, diabetes, cancer and heart disease typically run in families placing you at a higher risk of developing one of these conditions. However, you can reduce your risk by making healthy lifestyle choices and discussing your family’s medical history with your medical provider. Your physician can determine your risk of developing diseases that have affected your relatives and develop a plan to help you reduce your chance of suffering from the same conditions.
Knowing your family’s medical history is key to knowing what early screening tests your medical provider needs to prescribe.
Part of your physician’s plan to help reduce your risk of disease will include early screenings of conditions you have a higher chance of developing. According to NCBI, key markers can be identified in your family’s medical history that increases your risk of disease including:
- Diseases that develop earlier than in most people, usually 10-20 years.
- Diseases that occur in more than one relative.
- Diseases that don’t typically affect a certain gender (such as male breast cancer)
- Certain combinations of diseases like stroke and diabetes.
You can learn about your family’s medical history a few ways including:
- Asking questions.
- Researching death certificates.
- Collecting information on your relatives, including your parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and children.
If you haven’t learned about your family’s medical history, discuss it with your relatives. Then, schedule an appointment with EliteCare to learn how you can reduce your risk of developing common conditions in your family.