What is National Family Health History Day

    National Family Health History Day is a day when Americans are encouraged to discuss, record, and be aware of health problems that run in the family.

    The Surgeon General declared Thanksgiving as National Family Health History Day in 2004 as a means to help ensure families have longer, healthier futures.

    Common diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes can run in families. It’s common knowledge, and many families have stories about the loss of a loved one to chronic or genetic diseases.

    The question becomes — if such problems exist, why not have all family members be aware of them so their physicians can become better informed?

    To physicians, such information can be invaluable when diagnosing conditions or looking for complications associated with chronic or hereditary illness. According to the Genetic Disease Foundation, there are more than 6,000 genetic disorders passed down through generations affecting more than 12 million Americans.

    At RMI, family history plays a large part in many of our exams. For example, as part of our UltimateMamm®, we routinely evaluate the HBOC – Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer risk by accounting for both immediate and extended family history. This helps determine if a BRCA (breast cancer) gene test is recommended.

    Fortunately, the Office of the Surgeon General created an online tool to help families track their health. Known as the Family Health Portrait, it allows users to save their history and share it with other family members. The tool is private (part of Microsoft HealthVault), and does not share your information with government or private entities.

    Ready to get started tracking your health and encouraging family members to the same? Simply visit My Family Health Portrait to get started.