Tags: cancer | heart | Alzheimers | medical history

Mapping Your Family Medical Tree

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Thursday, 17 August 2017 04:40 PM Current | Bio | Archive

One of the most important things you can do for yourself, and for generations to come, is to map your family medical tree.

This will give you the inside scoop on whether you — or your relatives — may be at risk for heart problems, cancer, Alzheimer’s, or other diseases.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers a valuable tool called “My Family Health Portrait.” You can also map your own family medical tree (also referred to as a “pedigree”) by following these steps:

1. MAKE A LIST OF THE PEOPLE IN YOUR FAMILY, AND DIVIDE THEM INTO THESE CATEGORIES:

• First-degree relatives: parents, brothers, sisters, and children

• Second-degree relatives: grandparents, aunts, and uncles

• Third-degree relatives: first cousins and great-grandparents

2. CONSTRUCT YOUR FAMILY MEDICAL TREE. Your name and the names of your siblings go on the bottom. Above it, put your parents’ names, and your parents’ siblings names. The names of your cousins and grandparents go on the top line.

On your family tree, record these data:

• Date of the birth and death, and cause of death for each relative that has died

• Major illnesses and surgeries

• Ages of your relatives when they died or were diagnosed with an ailment

• Lifestyle factors that may have played a role in ailments, including smoking, obesity, and alcohol or drug abuse

Occupations may also be noteworthy, especially if a person was exposed to hazardous chemicals or environmental factors.

3. INTERPRET YOUR TREE.

• Pay the most attention to your parent’s medical histories, as they each contributed half of your genetic makeup. Other relatives count less.

• Pay attention to both sides of your family tree. You may have inherited a gene for a heart problem from either side of your family.

• Pay attention to age. Diseases that occur in people younger than usual are more likely to be hereditary. With heart disease, look for men who were diagnosed before 40 and women before 55.

• Be as detailed as possible. For instance, sudden death may be misclassified as an accident or drowning, when the precipitating factor was a heart attack.

• Look for clusters. The bunching of cases of the same disease is more suggestive than a disease that occurs in isolation.

• Don’t keep your family medical tree to yourself — share it with your relatives, who may have very important information to contribute.

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Dr-Crandall
One of the most important things you can do for yourself, and for generations to come, is to map your family medical tree.
cancer, heart, Alzheimers, medical history
399
2017-40-17
Thursday, 17 August 2017 04:40 PM
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