Family medical history is a record of relevant health information about an individual and his or her close relatives both paternal and maternal that identifies a wide range of markers from environmental to genetic that influences their health. A thorough record usually includes at least three generations of relatives and helps healthcare professionals determine the hereditary medical condition that runs in the family thereby aiding in their prevention or management. This history records information of both living and deceased members of the extended family.
Common genetic disorders
- Cystic fibrosis
- Huntington’s Disease
- Down Syndrome
- Sickle cell anemia
- Celiac disease
- Heart diseases and strokes
- Some types of cancers
Reasons to know your family health history
Despite some diseases being hereditary, some of their risk factors can be manipulated in the event the doctor has early and prior knowledge of them. Steps can be taken to reduce the severity of the disease. Herein are some of the reasons why you should know your family health history:
Tests and screens
This is very fundamental as it helps in the adept management and prevention of any likely hereditary diseases. This reduces the risk of developing the diseases and in case it is incurable minimizes its severity.
Family medical history helps people make lifestyle changes and adopt healthier decisions like changes of diet, quit smoking or drinking or increase exercise regimen as a way of lowering their chances of developing certain genetic diseases.
In some cases, it prevents the passing on of some genetic markers on to the children through modern genetic treatments that can be used to the parents and as such reduce the risk of passing the diseases through generations.
A comprehensive health history helps reduce the likelihood of misdiagnosis of likely hereditary diseases that present symptoms that can be easily mistaken for other diseases. It is also a very important accessory especially during an emergency when family members are overwhelmed as it gives accurate information on the patients.
In cases where genetic disorders are not treatable, family health history plays a very crucial role in couples’ decision to have or not have children to prevent the high risk of passing on diseases especially those that show symptoms on the onset.
In addition to helping one calculate their risk of contracting the disease family, medical health history helps in determining whether preventive surgeries or procedures, if any, are a viable option to eliminate the disorders.