Your family history includes health information about you and your close relatives. Families have many factors in common, including their genes, environment, and lifestyle. Looking at these factors can help you figure out whether you have a higher risk for certain health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
Having a family member with a disease raises your risk, but it does not mean that you will definitely get it. Knowing that you are at risk gives you a chance to reduce that risk by following a healthier lifestyle and getting tested as needed.
You can get started by talking to your relatives about their health. Draw a family tree and add the health information. Having copies of medical records and death certificates is also helpful.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Family History (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Medical History: Compiling Your Medical Family Tree (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Surgeon General's Family Health History Initiative (Department of Health and Human Services)
- Why Is It Important to Know My Family Medical History? (National Library of Medicine)
- Genetics, Disease Prevention and Treatment (National Human Genome Research Institute)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Family History (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
Find an Expert
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Also in Spanish
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) Also in Spanish
- National Human Genome Research Institute