Start the Exploration

To learn about your family health history, you can ask questions, talk at family gatherings, draw a family tree, and record health information. If possible, look at death certificates and family medical records. Some conditions to record are: heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and any other condition that seems to run in the family.

When looking over your family’s health history, remember to ask family members about current or past diseases, as well as deaths. Try to find medical records or other documents that can help you gather complete information.

It is up to you to take action and create your own family health record. Early detection of any condition that might affect you or your family’s health should be shared with your doctor. It is easy for anyone to create his or her own family history “portrait” by using computerized tools such as:

Family History: Resources and Tools

My Family Health Portrait

Genomic Program

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

  1. First, write down the information you collect about your family history and share it with your doctor.
  2. Second, remember to keep your information updated and share it with your brothers and sisters.
  3. Third, pass it on to your children, so that they too will have a family history record.

Your doctor should assess your risk of disease based on your family history and other risk factors. Your doctor also may recommend some activities you can do to help prevent disease, such as exercising more, changing your diet, or getting genetic screening tests to detect disease.

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