In 2004, the U.S. Surgeon General declared Thanksgiving as National Family History Day. This year, National Family Health History Day falls on November 26. Family health history is a significant part of routine medical care as it can act as a powerful screening tool. The simplest way to get information about family health history is to talk to your relatives about their past and current health issues. All family members would gather together during the Thanksgiving holiday, there is no better occasion to share information on the health issues that run in the family. This can help identify those who are at an increased risk of developing these conditions. By taking action at the right time and sharing this information with a health care provider, you can keep yourself and your family healthy.
Evaluating the medical issues that your parents, grandparents, and other blood relatives have can help your doctor predict disorders that you may be at risk of developing. Some common conditions that can be inherited include arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, stroke and some cancers. Collecting and sharing information on your family’s genetic disorders and sharing it your physician will help you work with your health care provider to formulate a strategy with appropriate lifestyle changes to maintain your health.
Americans are aware of the fact that family history is important to health. A recent survey found that 96 percent of Americans believe that knowing their family history is important, which is a positive sign. However, the same survey says only one-third of Americans have ever tried to compile their family’s health history, which is alarming. So if you are among those who have looked into your family’s medical history, this Thanksgiving Day is the ideal time to start doing so.
The Surgeon General has come out with a new easy-to-use, web-based tool called My Family Health Portrait to help people create a sophisticated picture of their family’s health. Using this tool you can organize your family’s history information and also take a printout to show your family doctor. You can save their family history information to your computer and share it with other members of your family.
Happy Thanksgiving Day and Family Health History Day!