To better predict and manage your family’s health care risks, you need to know about your ancestry and your immediate family’s health history. Your ancestry could increase your risk for certain genetic diseases that are more common in people from the same ethnic group. As for your family health history, seven of the ten leading causes of death have a strong family component:
- Heart disease
- Chronic lower respiratory diseases
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Influenza and pneumonia*
- Septicemia* (serious bacterial infection)
- Kidney disease
* not influenced by heredity
Family members have a lot in common, including environment, lifestyle, and of course, genes. By studying patterns of illness (or wellness) in your family history, physicians can determine whether you or your children could have an increased risk for certain conditions. If that is the case, genetic testing could be informative. Knowing your family medical history allows you to take steps to reduce risk. You may want to make some healthy lifestyle changes, have more frequent screenings like mammography or colonoscopy or other surveillance activities such as cardiac screenings.
The El Camino Hospital Family Medical History Tool powered by DNA Direct is a simple way to store, share, and update your family health history. A complete record includes information from three generations of relatives, including children, brothers and sisters, parents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, grandparents, and cousins.
You don’t have to be an expert in genetics to gather information about family disease patterns. All you need to do is talk to your relatives. Your aunt may not know anything about chromosomes, but she probably knows the cause of her father's death. Family gatherings are good opportunities to discuss these topics. Ask about things such as the age of onset of diseases and the causes of deaths in your family. But you don’t have to wait for the next holiday or family reunion to get started. Our Family Medical History Tool is easy to use and automatically saves information as you go. As you build out your family health history, the information needed to complete it will become obvious, and you can talk to relatives who may know the missing information.