Families gathering around the Thanksgiving dinner table should take the opportunity to discuss health issues that have afflicted family members. The Surgeon General says that Thanksgiving, Thursday November 26th is also National Family History Day. Understanding your family’s health history is a way to take more control of your health and help ensure that your doctors have all available information to make proper diagnoses for you and your children.
Healthcare professionals have known for many years that certain diseases run in families, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Common diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes frequently have genetic factors, as do more rare diseases such as hemophilia, cystic fibrosis, and sickle cell anemia.
Recognizing the impact of family health histories, the Surgeon General has launched a Family Health History Initiative, which encourages each of us to learn more about our family health history. By understanding your genetic risks, you may be able to provide important health information to your doctor and avoid a delayed diagnosis.
Why is it Important to Know Your Family Health History?
Why should each resident of Philadelphia understand his or her family health history? Having information about the illnesses suffered by your parents, grandparents, and other relatives can help your doctor predict the diseases and disorders that may reappear in your generation or that of your children. In other words, knowing your family health history can help you and your healthcare provider to:
- Identify disease risk factors;
- Take preventive measures to avoid certain diseases
- Avoid the occurrence of misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis
What Are the Most Common Hereditary Conditions?
In other words, your doctor should know if you have a family history of any of these diseases. But what other genetic disorders and conditions, in particular, tend to be hereditary? According to an article in Activebeat, the most common genetic disorders are as follows:
- Cystic fibrosis;
- Huntington’s disease;
- Down syndrome;
- Duchenne muscular dystrophy;
- Sickle cell anemia;
- Celiac disease;
- Becker muscular dystrophy;
- Noonan syndrome;
- Bloom’s syndrome.
As the article points out, many of these genetic disorders only occur when at least one of the parents (in in some cases both parents) are carriers. The World Health Organization (WHO) underscores that genetic diseases impact millions of people across the globe. In addition to the conditions listed in the article, WHO also recommends understanding your risk for the following:
- Tay-sachs disease;
- Fragile X syndrome.
How to Manage Your Family Health History
According to HHS, a large majority of Americans recognize the importance of knowing the family health history. Yet only about one-third of us have actually written down information to create a family health portrait.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides access to an online tool designed specifically to help Americans to create a family health record. Through the HHS “My Family Health Portrait,” you can do the following:
- Enter information about your family health history;tory can help prevent a
- Store and save information about your family history so that you have access to it, as well as the ability to make updates;
- Learn more about your risk (and your family members’ risks) for certain genetic diseases and conditions;
- Print a copy of your family health history for other family members or for your healthcare providers.
How a Negligence Attorney Can Help
Knowing your family health history is a way to take control of your own health, your children’s health, and your individual risk factors for certain diseases. Getting the correct diagnosis from your doctor is essential to staying healthy. Knowing your family health history can help you to better understand whether you are at risk for a specific condition.
When a healthcare professional makes a medical error that results in a misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis, the consequences can be serious. If you or someone you love suffered an injury as a result of medical malpractice, you should discuss your situation with an experienced Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the Colleran Firm today to learn more about how we can assist you. We are a Philadelphia medical malpractice firm serving clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.