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All in the Family: The Importance of Family Health History

The winter holidays are quickly approaching, and many of us are looking forward to spending time with our loved ones around the dinner table and making new holiday memories. As you dig in to that piece of pumpkin pie, we encourage you to discuss your family health history with your family members. November is Family Health History Month, and knowing what you may be at risk for is an important part of preventive healthcare.If a certain disease runs in your family, you may need to be screened before the recommended age as a precaution. For example, people with an average risk of colorectal (colon) cancer are advised to get screened beginning at age 50. However, your doctor may recommend that you start screenings sooner if you have a family history of colorectal cancer. You may also need to be screened more frequently if colorectal cancer runs in your family.Below is a list of conditions to ask about when obtaining your family health history. Document the condition, your relation to that person, which side of the family they are on, and their age when the disease was first detected. Be sure to share this information with your primary care doctor, and together you can discuss steps that may help lower your risk.

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol

This may be a sensitive subject for you and your family, but it’s important to understand your health risks and know that you can act now to help prevent certain diseases. By documenting your family health history, you are taking the first step to a healthy future together.

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