How big is your family tree? Do you know every uncle, cousin, great grandparent or aunt, twice-removed? While you don’t need to be friendly with every family member down your bloodline, it’s important to have a healthy understanding of your family’s medical history. There are hundreds of medical conditions with genetic connections. This means if someone directly related to you suffered from a specific disease, you’re at greater risk for developing the same condition. Keep reading to learn three reasons why knowing your family medical history might just save your life!
Prevents the Onset of Certain Conditions
If your parents, grandparents or aunts and uncles were diagnosed with conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease, chances are, you’re more likely to develop these same conditions. Knowledge is power in this case. Genetics aren’t the only factors to consider when staying healthy. Your environmental and lifestyle choices can trigger or even cause the onset of certain conditions.
If you know that your family is prone to diabetes, you need to closely monitor your diet. Steer clear of too many sugars and carbohydrates. You may also need to incorporate more exercise into your daily routine if you detect obesity in your family history. While there’s no guarantee you’ll follow in the footsteps of those who came before you, preventative care is a step in the right direction.
Helps You Communicate Better with Doctors
While some doctors are hailed as miracle workers, they aren’t mind readers! If you’re not completely up front with your doctor, they can’t help you. With the right information, doctors can help you discover the answers to so many medical questions from what conditions you’re predisposed for and how to keep them bay to helping with DNA paternity testing. You’re probably familiar with filling out page after page of paperwork as a new patient. While doctor offices need to know your medical insurance and contact information, your family medical history is most important.
The forms will most likely ask if there were specific types of cancers, heart conditions, mental illness, or other complications in your direct family. Knowing if the disease was on your mother or father’s side of the family is also important. Certain cancers like breast and ovarian on the maternal side, put women at greater risk for developing that same type of cancer. Always be upfront and honest with your doctor to receive proper treatment.
Common Genetic Conditions
If you’re not sure where to start in terms of researching your medical history, here are a few tips. These are the conditions that are most commonly passed from one generation to the next:
- Coronary heart disease
But which family members are at greatest risk? Your first-degree relatives include your parents, siblings, and children. You share 50% of your genetics with these individuals. Second-degree relatives include aunts and uncles. Third-degree relatives are even farther removed on the medical history chain and refer to your cousins.
Obviously, the more DNA you share with a family member suffering from a specific illness, the higher the risk. Some things to consider are at what age the illness first presented itself and if the relative has died as a result of their condition.
Knowing your background is about more than just finding long-lost relatives or discovering what ethnicity your forefathers were. In some cases, it could be a matter of life and death. Don’t ignore serious illness or death in close relatives. Do your research and keep both your doctor and the generations that follow up-to-date on everything you know!
Article Submitted By Community Writer