Thursday, December 27, 2012

Myth: It’s hard to know what health problems run in my family.

Answer: TRUE, but...

Families are increasingly mobile and diverse. This can make it hard to track the health problems that run in your family. If family members have certain conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, this may mean you have a higher chance of developing them. The earlier in life you can make changes in your habits like diet and physical activity, the better off you are. And your healthcare provider will want to know about the health problems in your immediate family members.

My Family Health Portrait at is a free, web-based tool from the federal government that helps you capture this information. After you enter the information about family members’ health conditions, the tool organizes it for you so that you can share the printed information at your next doctor’s visit. The government doesn’t keep a record of the information you add to the website — it is for your personal use only. You can save the information to your personal computer or thumb drive. You can also update the information at any time. It is available in Spanish, English and other selected languages.

Adult woman with parents
Discuss family health history with your parents
So, the next time you get together with family members, consider gathering information from them to help you identify the health problems that run in your family. Getting this information from family members is a very valuable gift.

Visit for more information about diabetes, high blood pressure and diabetes, and how you can delay or possibly prevent the onset of such conditions.

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension,, 573-882-1933

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