December 2017

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Health Capsule

Your Family’s Health History

Get to know your family better this holiday season by talking about health. Do any health conditions seem to run in your family? For example, have many people in your family had diabetes, cancer, a heart attack, or anything else?

Now is the time to find out. Ask about the health history of your grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and the rest. You can share this information with your health care team.

Knowing your family’s health history can help your health care team provide better care for you. It helps them know which medical tests to suggest for detecting early warning signs of certain diseases. Early testing helps because doctors can try to prevent a disease or treat it as soon as possible.

An online tool makes it easy to collect the information in one place. It’s called “My Family Health Portrait.” It’s simple to fill out. And it’s fast. It takes about 15 to 30 minutes.

The online tool is private. It doesn’t keep a record of your data. It’s available only to you for downloading or printing. After that, it’s up to you whether you want to share the information with family members or provide it to your health care team.

The tool was developed by the U.S. Surgeon General. This national health campaign to share family health history was launched in 2004 and has been active every year since. For more information, visit