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The Importance of Gathering Your Family Health History

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  • Written By: Michelle Civello, APRN, FNP-BC
The Importance of Gathering Your Family Health History

Hello from Civello!

The holiday season is a time that we share with our families and show how appreciative we are of them. Whether over Thanksgiving dinner, opening gifts by the tree or even just spending quality time together, the holidays are a good time to catch up. Need a conversation starter–How about family health history?

Did you know that Thanksgiving is also National Family Health History Day? While we are diving into our plates, diving into your family’s health information could be just as satisfying.

What is a family health history?

Family health history is a record of the diseases and health conditions that run in your family.

Why is family health history important to my health?

Most people have a family health history of at least one chronic disease, such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. This could increase your risk of developing that disease. But knowing and acting on your family health history can help you stay healthy.

Where do I start?

Start by gathering healthy history from your parents, siblings and children. To dive deeper into the family tree, consider interviewing your grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Keep track of their answers on paper or through an online tool.

What questions should I be asking?

  • Do you have any chronic diseases, such as heart disease or diabetes, or health conditions such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol?
  • Have you had any other serious diseases, such as cancer or stroke?
  • How old were you when each of these diseases and health conditions was diagnosed?
  • What is our family’s ancestry – from what countries did our ancestors come to the United States?
  • For relatives who have died, be sure to ask about cause and age of death.

I know my family’s health history. Now what?

Now it’s time to act on the information you’ve gathered! Family health history can help your doctor decide what screenings, tests and other interventions you need and when. Early interventions can prevent or delay the onset of conditions that may run in your family.

You family also can benefit from having this information, so don’t forget to share what you’ve learned with them.

Knowing your family history and acting on it can be a powerful tool in maintaining a healthy and happy life. This holiday season, take advantage of the time spent with loved ones and talk about family health history.

Ready to schedule an appointment with a North Oaks Primary Care provider to discuss your family history? Call (985) 236-0526 or visit

Hello from Civello is a monthly wellness blog written by Michelle Civello, APRN, FNP-BC. Michelle is a family nurse practitioner with Northshore Internal Medicine Associates in Hammond, where she treats patients, age 4 and older. In her practice, Michelle believes that open dialogue and individualized care are the best ways to motivate her patients and improve their health outcomes.

A veteran of the Louisiana Air National Guard, Michelle enjoys spending time with family and friends, taking care of her many four-legged friends, gardening, yoga, staying active and traveling. Get to know Michelle at