Back to Top Skip to main content

Medical histories show what health conditions run in the family

Doctors gain valuable insight by asking their patients about their family health history. Health problems, like diabetes and heart disease, can be higher-risk for patients whose family members have a history of certain ailments.  (U.S Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric Dietrich) Doctors gain valuable insight by asking their patients about their family health history. Health problems, like diabetes and heart disease, can be higher-risk for patients whose family members have a history of certain ailments. (U.S Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric Dietrich)

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Men's Health | Conditions and Treatments

“History repeats itself” is a commonly heard phrase that alludes to the similarities between historical events that occur throughout time. Historians tend to look at these past events and gather information to provide possible answers and predictions for the future. The same can be said of doctors, who look at their patients’, as well as their families’, medical histories for clues in identifying and evaluating current and potential health risks.

A family medical history is a collection of secondhand information about a patient’s family members, primarily parents and siblings, commonly gathered by a patient after speaking with their relatives about past and present medical conditions. It can offer insight into what health issues run in the family, and indicate genetic predisposition to possible ailments later in life, such as heart disease, diabetes and colon cancer. The information also alerts doctors to rarer disorders, such as cystic fibrosis, which may run in a family.

“Primarily, it is information about family members and their health histories, and what happened in the past,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Cormac O’Connor, a family medicine residency faculty member at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital. “As you grow older, you might start to see physicians more often, and this might be a good impetus to go talk to your family members, and to find out about their medical histories.”

O’Connor says doctors are interested in chronic health conditions family members might have or have had in the past, such as heart attack or stroke, and at what ages these conditions occurred. By having this information, doctors can decide if certain tests are necessary and if a patient might be at higher risk themselves. If they are deemed high risk, a doctor can come up with preventive measures and a plan for patients to minimize risk and improve their welfare.

“It’s very important for a competent clinician to look at a patient’s age, health status and risks, and then determine if tests might be necessary,” said O’Connor. He said there is not a one-size-fits-all test to determine a person’s health standing. Doctors must look at all the information at their disposal and decide what course of action is taken from there.

While a family health history is important to maintain, the most important step patients can take is to take care of themselves. O’Connor says that many diseases, including ones that run in families, are preventable and can be minimized if patients maintain healthy lifestyles through proper diet, exercise and avoiding unhealthy activities. The development of heart disease, diabetes and other serious ailments can be significantly reduced through healthy habits.

“I spend a lot of time as a cheerleader for my patients, trying to get them to make lifestyle changes that are far more beneficial than the majority of interventions we have,” said O’Connor on the importance of patients taking care of their own health.

Heart disease, the No. 1 killer of Americans, for example, can be reduced by up to 80 percent if people actively maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid unnecessary health risks that increase the chances of developing heart-related complications.

“The reality is if you don’t smoke, you get 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise, you’re not significantly overweight or obese, you don’t eat a high-sugar diet, and you maintain a regular blood pressure, then that’s an 80-percent solution right there,“ O’Connor said. “That’s really where the greatest amount of preventive medicine is available.” 

You also may be interested in...

Possible cause for severe eczema has been found

Article
8/21/2017
Some patients living with severe eczema – a possible disqualifying factor for military service – have been found to have mutations on a gene called CARD11. Identified as a possible cause for the condition, the discovery can lead to exciting possibilities for advancements, according to the researchers.

Some patients living with severe eczema have been found to have mutations on a gene called CARD11 – Identified as a possible cause for the condition, the discovery can lead to exciting possibilities for advancements, according to the researchers

Recommended Content:

Conditions and Treatments | Innovation | Warrior Care

Vaccinations: Important part of back-to-school checklist

Article
8/16/2017
Air Force Senior Airman Antoinette Fowler shows a 4-year-old how to give a vaccination during a teddy bear clinic at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. The event taught children about the importance of vaccination and immunization. Getting necessary vaccinations now is as much a rite of going back to school as picking up pencils and paper for the first day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ilka Cole)

Making sure children have all their vaccinations before going back to school is as important as making sure they have the right supplies

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Children's Health

Pumping on the job is worth any hassles, breast-feeding moms say

Article
8/3/2017
Navy Lt. Alea DePauw (left) with Ethan, 6 months, and Lt. Cmdr. Melissa Rosloniec (right) with Jack, 10 months, pump when they work at Naval Medical Center San Diego. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Elizabeth Merriam)

August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week, an annual global campaign to promote the benefits of nursing; this year marks the 25th annual event, which is recognized in more than 170 countries

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Children's Health

Immunizations provide the ounce of prevention delivering the pound of cure

Article
8/1/2017
Air Force Col. Tonya Rans, chief, Immunization Healthcare Branch, Defense Health Agency.

Air Force Col. Tonya Rans, chief, Immunization Healthcare Branch at the Defense Health Agency, explains how vaccinations are an important preventive health tool.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Immunization Healthcare

One size no longer fits all: MHS’ approach to individualized medicine

Article
7/7/2017
Dr. Jonathan Woodson, former assistant secretary of Defense for Health Affairs and member of Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences Board of Regents, provided the opening remarks at the recent Precision Medicine Research Conference in Potomac, Maryland. (Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences photo)

Military Health System experts discussed the importance of individualized approach to prevention and treatment, and the need for MHS and Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences to pave the way

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Medical Research and Development

'Exciting' advances in prostate cancer research this year

Article
6/29/2017
The National Cancer Institute estimates more than 161,000 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year alone.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men in the U.S., second only to skin cancer

Recommended Content:

Men's Health

Sexually transmitted infections: By any other name, they're preventable

Article
6/28/2017
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Oliver Arceo draws blood from a sailor at the Naval Air Station North Island medical clinic in Coronado, California, for routine HIV testing. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Marie Montez)

The term for germs spread through sexual contact has changed over the years, from venereal diseases to sexually transmitted diseases and now, sexually transmitted infections or STIs

Recommended Content:

Men's Health

Men's Health: Heart disease

Article
6/27/2017
A blue 3D drawing of a human heart with large red blood cells flowing out. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 321,000 men died from heart disease in 2013, or one in every four male deaths. (NIH courtesy image)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 321,000 men died from heart disease in 2013, or one in every four male deaths

Recommended Content:

Men's Health | Heart Health

Men need to take control of their health

Article
6/22/2017
Lt. Cmdr. David Griffin, a urologist at Naval Hospital Pensacola, discusses a treatment plan with a patient in the Urology Clinic. Some of the common conditions seen at the clinic include male infertility, sexual health, kidney stones, urinary tract infections, urologic cancers, blood in the urine, urinary problems, vasectomies and more. (U.S. Navy photo by Jason Bortz)

Men need to take control of their health, not just during Men’s Health Month but year round

Recommended Content:

Men's Health

Prevent TBIs this summer and beyond

Article
6/21/2017
Each year, more than 1 million people visit the emergency room because of TBIs. And contrary to common belief, most TBIs experienced by service members result from motor vehicle accidents, not exposures to blasts. TBI can damage your brain tissue, and it can impair your speech and language skills, balance and motor coordination, and memory. (MHS graphic)

Each year, more than 1 million people visit the emergency room because of TBIs. And contrary to common belief, most TBIs experienced by service members result from motor vehicle accidents, not exposures to blasts. TBI can damage your brain tissue, and it can impair your speech and language skills, balance and motor coordination and memory

Recommended Content:

Mental Wellness | Men's Health | Traumatic Brain Injury

Men's health is important too

Article
6/20/2017
June marks Men’s Health Month, an opportunity to increase awareness about health issues important to men such as prostate, testicular, skin and colon cancers, hypertension, obesity and heart disease. (MHS graphic)

This month the Military Health System will focus on the importance of recognizing preventable health problems and encouraging early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys in the DoD community

Recommended Content:

Men's Health | Physical Activity

Absolute and Relative Morbidity Burdens Attributable to Various Illnesses and Injuries, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016

Infographic
6/19/2017
Did you know  … ? In 2016, essential hypertension accounted for 52,586 encounters for health care among 29,612 active component service members in the U.S. Armed Forces. Of all cardiovascular diseases, essential hypertension is by far the most common specific condition diagnosed among active duty service members. Untreated hypertension increases the risks of subsequent ischemic heart disease (heart attack), cerebrovascular disease (stroke), and kidney failure. CHART: Healthcare burdens attributable to cardiovascular diseases, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016 Major condition: •	For all other cardiovascular the number of medical encounters was 70,781, Rank 29, number of individuals affected was 35,794 with a rank of 30. The number of bed days was 4,285 with a rank of 21. •	For essential hypertension the number of medical encounters was 52,586, rank 35, number of individuals affected was 29,612 with a rank of 35. The number of bed days was 151 with a rank of 86. •	For cerebrovascular disease the number of medical encounters was 7,772, rank 79, number of individuals affected was 1,708, with a rank of 96. The number of bed days was 2,107 with a rank of 32. •	For ischemic heart disease the number of medical encounters was 6,629, rank 83, number of individuals affected 2,399 with a rank of 87. The number of bed days was 1,140 with a rank of 42. •	For inflammatory the number of medical encounters was 2,221, rank 106, number of individuals affected 1,302 with a rank of 97. The number of bed days was 297 with a rank of 72. •	For rheumatic heart disease the number of medical encounters was 319, rank 125, number of individuals affected 261, with a rank of 121. The number of bed days was 2 with a rank of 133. Learn more about healthcare burdens attributable to various diseases and injuries by visiting Health.mil/MSMRArchives. #LoveYourHeart Infogaphic graphic features transparent graphic of a man’s heart illuminated within his chest.

This infographic documents healthcare burdens attributable to cardiovascular diseases among active component, U.S. Armed Forces in 2016.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Preventive Health | Men's Health | Heart Health

Men's Health: Take charge

Article
6/9/2017
Men should see their primary care manager for regular checkups. Checkups can help diagnose issues early, before they become a problem, and sometimes before symptoms appear. (U.S. Navy photo)

The top five leading causes of death among men are heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke

Recommended Content:

Men's Health | Physical Activity

Retired soldier says bad health behaviors a 'guy thing,' vows to get healthier

Article
6/8/2017
Russell Henderson, retired from the Army since 2002, tries to shed his "guy thing" bad habit of not getting enough exercise by using an elliptical machine at the gym. (Courtesy photo)

Men are more likely to make bad health choices than women, sometimes blaming it on being a 'guy thing'

Recommended Content:

Men's Health | Physical Activity

Men’s vitality, good health habits formed in uniform go together

Article
6/7/2017
Retired Army Maj. Bill Gleason’s active lifestyle in Savannah, Georgia, includes cycling and sharing full-time day care duties with his wife for three grandchildren ages 8, 6, and 4. (Courtesy photo)

Men can maintain strength and vitality by sticking with the good health habits they formed in the military.

Recommended Content:

Physical Activity | Men's Health
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 9

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.