Branch Out When Exploring Your Family Tree
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Dec. 13, 2011 - Many people know something about their family history, like the year Grandma was born or how your parents met. But what about your family’s health history – do you know what Grandma died from or what medication your parents take daily? Your family’s next holiday gathering may provide you with the perfect opportunity to create your own medical family tree, mapping out potential health risk factors and improving your family’s overall wellness.
“Since most illnesses have some form of genetic components, mapping your family health history provides valuable insight into your own future health,” says Gyorgy Pataki, M.D., an Internal Medicine specialist with Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation. “The more we know about the past, the better we can predict the potential future and identify which screening tests are most important for you.”
Dr. Pataki adds, “Although health conditions aren’t usually a hot topic at the dinner table, I encourage everyone to talk with their parents, siblings, aunts and uncles when together this holiday season. The discussion may reveal information that helps you and your doctor develop a wellness plan customized to your personal health needs.”
So, where to start?
- Download the medical family tree from Sutter Health’s MyLifeStages.
- Ask relatives if they have any health conditions, or which medications they are taking.
- Find out if family members have had early or unusually frequent health screenings.
- Consider looking at legal documents for a few generations, such as death certificates, for family members who have passed away.
- Your Family Health History – What to Ask Your Parents
- Roadmap to health – Take a free health risk assessment with immediate results
About Sutter Health
Serving patients and their families in more than 100 Northern California cities and towns, Sutter Health doctors, not-for-profit hospitals and other health care service providers share resources and expertise to advance health care quality and access. The Sutter Medical Network includes many of California’s top-performing, highest quality physician organizations as measured annually by the Integrated Healthcare Association. Sutter-affiliated hospitals are regional leaders in cardiac care, women’s and children’s services, cancer care, orthopedics and advanced patient safety technology.
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