The Importance of Sharing Family Health History with your Doctor

Knowing your family's health past offers insights for proactive care. Sharing it helps doctors make personalised plans for early help and preventive strategies for a healthier future.

By URLife Team
27 Dec 2023

Have you ever been told you resemble a family member? Whether it's your smile, eyes, or mannerisms, shared features among relatives or family members are often noticed. However, beyond the visible similarities lies an unseen connection: genetics. While physical resemblances are apparent, there's an invisible thread that links family members—shared genes. These genetic blueprints hold vital information about health risks and predispositions. Surprisingly, you might carry not just your grandfather's nose or your aunt's smile, but also their genetic tendencies, such as an increased risk for certain health conditions like heart disease.


When considering a healthy lifestyle, thoughts often gravitate towards exercise routines, balanced nutrition, and adequate hydration. Yet, amidst these pillars of wellness, an often-overlooked aspect is understanding one's family tree—a fundamental component in promoting overall health. While it might not initially spring to mind, creating a comprehensive family medical history is as important as maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Certain health conditions tend to run in a family, and having knowledge about the health status of family members helps devise personalised health plans. This awareness not only aids individuals but also enables doctors to tailor more effective strategies for maintaining well-being.


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A family health history consists of a record of health information, conditions and diseases about you and your close family relatives. Understanding your family health history can help you in taking necessary precautions, lifestyle adjustments and getting timely screenings if any specific kind of disease or condition is prevalent in the family. The following conditions may increase your chances of developing these hereditary conditions and diseases:


Research suggests that if a close family member has or had any disease, say breast cancer,  your risk of developing it rises, especially if multiple relatives had it or if someone in your family was diagnosed at a younger age than usual. Although a family health history gives insight into potential health risks, having relatives with a condition doesn't guarantee that an individual will develop it. Conversely, someone without a family history of a disorder might still face the risk of developing it.


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Understanding Family Health History

Building a family health history starts with collecting the health history of immediate family members and those who are related to you through blood. Also, the general rule of accumulating health history is that more is better. Collecting this information involves gathering details about major medical issues, causes of death, ages when conditions first appeared, and factors like ethnic background and environment. These elements, though seemingly simple, are vital in understanding potential health risks and preparing a proactive health plan for you and your family.


Family Health History: Things to Consider

To create a comprehensive family health history, consider the following points:

Major Medical Issues

Record any prevalent health conditions among family members, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or other chronic ailments.


Causes of Death

Note the causes of death of close relatives and at what age these occurred, if possible.


Age of Onset

Document the ages at which specific health conditions were first diagnosed in family members.


Ethnic Background

Include information about the family's ethnic background, as some health conditions might be more prevalent in certain ethnicities.



Take note of any shared environmental factors like living conditions or habits that might contribute to health issues within the family.


It might be surprising to know that the environment and background are also important to consider while building a family health history. This is because families with similar cultures often have similar habits. Some diseases are more common in specific racial or ethnic groups. For instance, sickle cell anaemia is more common in African Americans, cystic fibrosis in Caucasians, tuberculosis in Asians, and cardiovascular disease in Hispanics.


Importance of Sharing Family Health History With Your Doctor

Your doctor should have a comprehensive understanding of your health, encompassing not just your lifestyle, dietary habits, and exercise routine but also your family health history. Sharing details about your lifestyle and habits assists your doctor in gauging your overall well-being. However, including your family health history completes the picture, providing crucial insights into potential genetic predispositions and familial health patterns.

Guides Personalised Care

Sharing your family health history helps your doctor understand potential health risks you might face. This information guides them in tailoring a more personalised and effective care plan for you.


Identifies Risks Early

It helps in the early detection of conditions you might be prone to based on your family's medical background. This early awareness allows for proactive steps to prevent or manage these conditions.


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Aids in Better Diagnosis

Knowing your family health history assists doctors in making more accurate diagnoses. This insight helps them consider conditions that might have a familial link and conduct appropriate screenings or tests.


Determines Screening Frequency

It allows doctors to recommend screenings at appropriate intervals based on your familial predispositions, ensuring timely check-ups and early detection of potential health issues. If any member or members of your family have/ had breast cancer then the doctor may suggest screening such as mammography or if anyone has or had colon cancer, then the doctor might suggest getting a colonoscopy done frequently and starting at an early age.


Facilitates Preventive Measures: Armed with this information, your doctor can suggest lifestyle changes, screenings, or preventive measures to reduce your risk of certain diseases or conditions. Also, understanding your family health history allows for better long-term health planning, not just for you but for future generations as well.


Regular health checks are essential for everyone, but they are particularly important for individuals who are at risk of or already have (condition name). Taking regular health checks can help detect (condition name) at an early stage when it is easier to manage and treat. With the UR.Life HRA, we help you to invest in your well-being through seamless interventions and targeted medical treatments. Our holistic wellness approach caters to all aspects of your well-being. We ensure that you can bring your whole self to work.

With our medical professionals by your side, routine health check-ups will never be an issue. Advanced laboratory technologies back UR.Life’s Occupational Health Centers (OHC), and with highly qualified experts/technicians, we’re committed to delivering trusted and quality recommendations, modifications and advice to you.



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