Have you always been told that you look like one of your parents? That is because we have the same genetic composition. Apart from physical features, family members share a lot of common aspects like ethnic background, environment, and lifestyle which help us to know more about prevalent medical conditions in a family.
Family health history basically compiles information on the predominant medical conditions of family members. It is not similar to a patient’s medical history because it gives distinct information about the prognosis of diseases, health conditions that have affected different relatives and indicates the risk of getting a disease depending on the relationship between the family members.
The significance of knowing family health history is that one can observe disorder patterns, rare conditions among relatives, and determine if an individual is at risk of developing a particular health condition. Using this information one can seek help from a medical health professional to take adequate measures to reduce the risk of disease by having regular checkups, adopting a healthy lifestyle, and avoiding habits that will help to prevent certain diseases.
With the help of technology and genealogical tools, you can now trace your family tree back to generations, explore family records from national archives, and connect with living relatives in different geographic locations.
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Reasons for Tracing Family Health History
You cannot alter your genetic makeup, but having proper knowledge of your family health history can prove instrumental in
- Adopting lifestyle changes (like modifications in diet and avoiding unhealthy behaviors) early on to prevent health issues
- Assessing and reducing the risk of emerging health issues
- Conducting early and frequent screening tests to reveal diseases at an early stage
- Reducing the chances of getting acquainted with a disease or learning to slow progression and hazardous effects of health conditions
- Determining the type of cure that proved risky and beneficial in the past. Doctors can take precautionary measures and increase the chances of effective treatment.
In addition to this, it is imperative to make a note of diseases and disorders that have been prevalent among family members. Common health conditions among family members include:
- Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
- Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis
- Birth defects
- Cardiovascular problems
- Diabetes mellitus
- Genetic conditions (like Haemophilia and cystic fibrosis)
- Heart issues like heart attack and stroke
- Hypertension (high blood pressure and cholesterol)
- Mental illnesses
- Syndromes like Turner’s, Klinefelter’s and Cri du chat
An individual can collect data about their health history from old medical records and communicate with relatives to determine ethnicity, gender, major medical conditions, mental health issues, information of deceased relatives (especially note the age of disease inception or diagnosis and age during death), cause of death, environmental conditions, lifestyle habits (including diet, exercise) and addictive behaviors.
If you share this information with your doctor, they can identify other members of your family who may be at risk, prescribe screening tests to detect chronic diseases, monitor health conditions at different ages, suggest preventive measures, medication, and treatment to tackle the disease.
Family health history tracing is very effective to predict a patient’s risk of getting a particular disease, conducting screening tests at appropriate ages and helping a patient to try and prevent or at least cope and recover from a health condition successfully. These measures can encourage individuals to make timely and well-informed decisions about their health to minimize complications, manage resources needed to deal with health issues and lead healthier lives.
In addition to major discounts, Ancestry® and more genealogy websites like MyHeritage, Family Builder also offers membership plans (namely U.S. Discovery membership, World Explorer membership and All Access Membership) on their app and website. These plans help users to scan through military records, census search index, voter lists, immigration and travel records, international archives and databases to get more information about the date of birth & death of family members and their geographic locations.
Now trace yourself back to better people, prevent diseases and lead healthy lives!