Family matters… to your heart health

Remember, Thanksgiving, Nov. 24, 2016, is National Family Health History Day.

Sharing details of your family health can save lives. When was Grandma’s heart attack? When did Uncle Bob’s battle begin with high blood pressure?

While still in their 20s, your gorgeous children and darling nephews need the facts so they can work with their doctors to make lifelong changes to keep them healthy. Brilliant nieces, too.

It’s so important that the U.S. Surgeon General declared Thanksgiving, Nov. 24, National Family Health History Day.

Before the designated carver starts to work on your perfectly-roasted turkey, gather the family around a computer screen and put the puzzle together. Or print out the form and grab a pen.

“Begin the conversation by explaining that learning more about a family health history may help save lives,” said Jaime Grund, St. Elizabeth Healthcare’s Coordinator of Clinical Genetic Services.

“Family members share their genes, as well as their environment, lifestyles and habits,” said the licensed certified genetic counselor.

It’s a critical tool for doctors, even if the younger relatives screen as “low-risk” because they eat right and exercise.

“In fact, a family history of cardiovascular disease before age 50 years in a close male relative and age 60 years in a close female relative is considered a risk factor for heart disease independent of lifestyle,” said Grund.

Ninety-six percent of Americans know family health history matters but less than a third has gathered the facts even from just immediate family, according to the office of  “America’s Doctor” Surgeon General   Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy.

The computerized tool:

  • Is easy and private. The information is not stored by the government.
  • Organizes family history information on a simple chart
  • Asks specifically about heart disease, stroke, diabetes, colon cancer, breast cancer and ovarian cancer
  • Can be printed and given to family doctors
  • Allows users to save the information on their own computer
  • Can be shared with other relatives

So, get the details and share them with your doctor.