Americans Urged To Learn Family Health History
- Americans Urged To Learn Family Health History
New Tool Provides Printout For People To Take To DoctorsPOSTED: 2:30 pm EST November 8, 2004One of the biggest indicators of a person's health risks can be found simply by asking grandma and grandpa a few questions.That's why U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona announced that Thanksgiving Day will be the first annual National Family History Day.Using a person's family history to determine disease risks isn't anything new. Every young physician learns that it is a valuable clinical tool to help know what diseases to watch for in patients.But when a health care professional attempts to collect a family health history, patients frequently do not know the details of what diseases run in their families."It is our hope as families gather this holiday season, they'll take the time to learn -- and record -- their families' health histories so that they can continue to have years of family gatherings together," said Dr. Muin Khoury, director of the CDC's Office of Genomics and Disease Prevention.To help gather family history information, the Department of Health and Human Services released a free computer program that can help people organize health information.The "My Family Health Portrait" tool guides users through a series of screens that helps them compile, for each family member, information about six common diseases, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Users can also add conditions not on the list.After information is collected about grandparents, parents, siblings, children, aunts, uncles and cousins, the tool creates a graphic printout that organizes the information into a diagram that can be used by doctors to better individualize diagnosis, treatment and prevention plans. The printout can also be placed in a patient's medical record.The "My Family Health Portrait" tool can be downloaded at http://www.hhs.gov/familyhistory/.