Family members share genes, behaviors, lifestyles and environments that together may influence their health and their risk of chronic disease, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Many people have close family members who have chronic diseases such as cancer, coronary heart disease and diabetes, which may increase their risk of developing that disease. Health conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol are also prevalent among Americans.
Your family health history is a written or graphic record of diseases and health conditions present in your family. It can include three generations of your biological relatives, the age at diagnosis and the age and cause of death of deceased family members. A family health history is a useful tool to understand health risks and prevent disease in individuals and their close relatives.
Some may know a lot about their family health history, yet some may know very little. It is helpful to discuss your health history with family members, keep records of information, and update it from time to time. If you have organized accurate information to share with health care providers, it can be a useful tool to determine recommended health tests and screenings.
Visit My Family Health Portrait, a website created by the CDC and the US Surgeon General to help in collecting and organizing your Family Health History.