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Why is family medical history important?

Knowing your family health history is important because it can help your doctor understand if you are at a higher risk for certain diseases and if you need specific screenings. Here are some things you can do to keep track of your family’s health history.

family historyHow can I find out more about my family’s health history?

To find out more about your family’s health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends you:

  • Ask questions about your family’s health at home and at family gatherings
  • Look at death certificates and any medical records or information your family may have on hand

Be sure to get information about your immediate and extended family (e.g., mother, father, siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles) to get a better understanding of how your family’s health can impact your risk of certain diseases and illnesses.

What should I know about my family’s health history?

When collecting information about your family’s health history, include:

  • Major medical conditions and causes of death
  • How old family members were when they were diagnosed with a disease and when they died

Once you have gathered this information, share it with your doctor. Depending on what you find out, your doctor may look at your risk of certain diseases and recommend screenings to find disease early or lifestyle changes to help prevent disease.

Tip: The Office of the Surgeon General offers the My Family Health Portrait tool to help you keep track of your family health history.

Lower your risk with a healthy lifestyle

Regardless of if you have a history of disease in your family, living a healthy lifestyle can help you prevent chronic disease. Here are some tips from the CDC on how you can reduce your risk of chronic disease:

  • Eat well-balanced meals with a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy
  • Exercise for at least 150 minutes (two-and-a-half hours) each week
  • Don’t drink alcohol, or limit how much you drink

What if I don’t have a doctor?

If you don’t have a doctor, you can find one using our Find Care tool. Log in to your account on our member website and select Find Care to search for a doctor.

You can also use the Blue Cross of Idaho member app by logging in and selecting Find Care. You can download the member app from the App Store or Google Play.


Posted: February 22, 2023