Family Tree imageMoney doesn’t grow on trees, but better health may. 

You may not know it, but you have available to you powerful knowledge that can affect your future:  your family’s medical history “tree”.

Most of us know that we can reduce our risk of disease by eating a healthy diet, exercising, and not smoking.  But did you know that your family history might be one of the strongest influences on your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer?  Even though you cannot change your genetic makeup, knowing your family health history now could help you reduce your risk of developing health problems later.

Doctor-Patient ImageKnowing your family history can also help your doctor predict your risk of developing diseases like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer.  Because family members share their genes, and often share their environment, lifestyles, and habits - using family history helps identify if you or others in your family that may be at increased risk for disease. A family health history portrait given to your primary care provider helps your provider consider both your genes and these other shared risk factors influencing your health. The U.S. Surgeon General’s Family History Initiative encourages family discussion of health history, and provides a free, easy-to-use, web-based family history tool, available in English and Spanish, that people can download and complete called “My Family Health Portrait”.

The Department of Public Health is joining the U.S. Surgeon General’s Family History initiative to promote health and prevent disease for Connecticut’s citizens. DPH is promoting this Family History initiative to encourage family discussion of their health history.  Together with the U.S. Surgeon General, the Department of Public Health urges all Connecticut families to increase their awareness of the importance of family health history and to join together to protect their health.

Remember:  One of the best predictors for chronic illness or disability is a family history of the same condition.  Know your family health history - and share it with your doctor. 

Click on the links below for other family health history resources and additional information:

DPH Family Health History Resources

Surgeon General’s Family Health Portrait

CDC’s Office of Genomics and Disease Prevention

National Society for Genetic Counselors

Iniciativa de Historia Familiar del Surgeon General de los Estados Unidos


Important Note

The CT Department of Public Health is not collecting information on your family history.