National Family Health History Day is November 28th

Do you know your family’s health history? Whether you answered yes or no to that question, it is a good idea to discuss the topic on Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving Day is declared National Family Health History Day by the United States Surgeon General, because what better time is there to discuss family health history than on the day when family gathers together under one roof. Knowing your family and blood relatives’ health history can act as a large stepping stone for improving health.

What Exactly is Family Health History?

According to the CDC, family health history is “a record of the disease and health conditions in your family.” Families have commonalities such as genes, environment, and lifestyle. Those commonalities are factors that can aid in determining potential health risks. However, it is not guaranteed that you may develop a disease or medical condition just because a family member has it. Knowing about their health history will help reduce the risk for yourself by allowing time to prevent disease or find it early and seek treatment options.

The Top 3 Reasons Why it is Important to Know Family Health History:

  1. Identify increased risk of developing certain conditions.
  2. Reduce risks.
  3. Develop a more complete picture of individual health.

Questions to Ask Family Members:

  • Have you or a family member had any medical conditions? If so, when did those occur?
  • Have you or a family member had any chronic diseases? If so, do any of you currently still live with disease or gone through treatment?
  • Did any of your relatives have medical conditions or disease that you do not have?

Steps to Prevent Disease:

  • Talk to your family.
  • Ask questions.
  • Record the information and update it whenever you learn new family health history information.
    • You can record and keep track of the information using a free web-based tool called “My Family Health Portrait,” which was created by the U.S. Surgeon General.
  • Share every piece of information you know about your family’s health history with other family members.
  • Talk to your doctor.
  • Follow a healthier lifestyle.
    • Begin health screenings earlier on in life based on family health history.
    • Ask your doctor about how to complete genetic testing.
      • Genetic testing examines your DNA, which can reveal changes or mutations in your genes that may cause illness or disease.  

Keep in mind, National Family Health History Day falls on the fourth Thursday of November every year. In other words, it always falls on Thanksgiving. MemorialCare wishes everyone a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!