National Family Health History Day

In honor of this being Thanksgiving week, and National Family Health History Day falling on Thanksgiving Day, we wanted to make family health history the focus of our blog this week! 

Thanksgiving Day was declared National Family Health History Day by the U.S. Surgeon General in 2004. Knowing and being able to provide family health history information is an important part of routine medical care. Your family’s health history doesn’t always directly influence or dictate your health over the course of your life, but it can give insight into what you might be at higher risk for, and can help you mitigate some of those risk factors. It is not uncommon for family members to be unsure of the health history of past generations, and even of their immediate family. However, It is impossible for any history to come to light unless there is a conversation about it. That is exactly what National Family Health History Day was inspired to do: facilitate a conversation about this topic and encourage people to learn more about their health history. Now more than ever it is so important that we are doing everything we can to take preventative measures to stay healthy. Getting to know your own history can help you and your loved ones understand if there is anything you may be at higher risk for and can help you be proactive about it.

It is very important to know your family’s health history to be able to determine if you might have a higher predisposition to certain illnesses or disorders. Many disorders that are notability tied to family history are very common disorders, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, certain cancers, and diabetes. It is important to note that any disorder or diagnosis may be influenced by a combination of genetic predispositions as well  as environmental conditions, lifestyle habits and more. However, for those conditions that genetic predisposition and family history may weigh heavily on, knowing this early on can help mitigate the negative effects or the potential for negative effects. Knowing your risk level as far as the genetic component goes can do a great deal in taking preventative measures in the other influential areas of your life. For example, if you know that heart disease or diabetes runs in your family, and that you are at higher risk, eating healthier and exercising can ensure that you are doing everything you can to keep yourself healthy. For some conditions there are even screenings you can have,, or medications you can take to more actively understand how something that runs in your family may or may not be affecting you. 

Working with your Primary Care Physician, is important because though you may know your history, you may not know what the best course of action is given that information. Similarly, though your doctor may know of ways to help mitigate the risk given a certain genetic predisposition, they can not help you unless you make this known to them. Failure to obtain, or failure to give a full history can lead to bad outcomes.There are even some circumstances where certain treatments or medications are unsafe given your family health and medical history. This is why being able to have a conversation dedicated to this with your family can truly do so much in protecting yourself and your family from preventable health complications. The CDC suggests that you talk to your family, ask questions, record the information and update it whenever you learn new family history, and share family information with your doctor and other family members.

Take the time this Thanksgiving, whether it is in person, over the phone, on a zoom call, or by mail and appreciate your loved ones. Have an honest conversation about your family health history, and make sure your physician has the most updated document of this information. As always, feel free to email us with questions at and check out our website to request a demo at Stay tuned for our next blog post!