Since 2004, the U.S. Surgeon General has declared Thanksgiving Day as National Family History Day.  On this day when families traditionally gather to give thanks, you are encouraged to discuss family health history. Knowing your family health history is an important part of protecting your family’s health in the future.

Although the pandemic has dramatically changed how we are interacting with family and friends this year, we can take advantage of our smaller, more intimate gatherings. Since some family members may not be comfortable talking about their health this is a good time to start a conversation about family health history.

Collecting your Family Health History 

Collecting your family health history is an important first step.  Your family may have passed along the risk for hereditary conditions like cancer, diabetes, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, depression and dementia.  By learning and documenting your own family health history, you are taking the first step in helping to ensure a longer, healthier future.

Documenting your Family Health History

Knowing what information is relevant and recording it in a way that is useful to your care provider, can seem like an overwhelming task.   Family Care Path’s web-based application MyLegacy makes family history collection easy. Data is entered once and can be updated as needed in the future. The information is analyzed using a technology that was developed by a team of genetics specialists and physicians at the Cleveland Clinic. MyLegacy will provide a report of your risk profile and family tree, saving your physician valuable time that can instead be spent on addressing your personal care and minimizing your risk for disease. 

Act on your Family Health History

Knowing about your family health history of a disease is a strong motivator to lower your chances of getting the disease. Talk with your doctor about steps that you can take, including whether you should consider early screening for the disease. You can’t change your family health history, but you can change unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, not exercising, and poor eating habits. 

Whether you know a lot about your family health history or a little, take time to talk to your family about their health histories this holiday.  It can be life changing.

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