You may have a lot in common with your family members. Think about it. Has anybody ever told you, “You have your mom’s eyes,” or “You have your grandfather’s nose”?
Your genes help paint a picture of who you are. They help determine your eye, hair, and skin color. They affect how you look, some ways you behave, and even your blood type. But most importantly, they can help doctors learn what kinds of health problems might be passed on to you.
Put simply, your health history family tree—often called your family medical history—is a record of illnesses and health conditions that run in your family. These illnesses and conditions can range from cancer to heart disease to high blood pressure.
Chances are you have a family member who suffers from some type of health condition. If you do, you may have a higher chance of developing this condition as well. By knowing your health history family tree, you can pass this information along to your doctor.
While a health history family tree can’t predict the future of your health, it can be a vital tool for your doctor. According to the Mayo Clinic, your family medical history can help doctors:1
The sooner you start developing your healthy history family tree, the earlier you can begin to use it to help protect your health.
Last updated January 2014
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