Topeka (WIBW) - How much do you know about your family's medical history?
The answer could make a big difference in your own health
Dr. Sredivi Donepudi of Topeka's Cotton-O'Neil Clinic says many genetic conditions can be passed on, such as sickle cell, and family history can also indicate you're at risk for conditions like heart disease, diabetes or cancer.
People often have a hard time providing the background when they're at the doctors office, so the "Family Health Portrait" web tool from the U.S. Surgeon General can help you get it all down by leading you through the key questions.
Dr. Donepudi says whether it's through the web tool or on your own, you should ask your parents about their parents, know their age of death if they're no longer living, and find out any conditions they had, such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.
The web tool might prompt you to get more specific. For example, rather than just "a kidney problem," "cancer" or "heart disease," it will ask what type.
Dr. Donepudi says that's important because, in the case of the heart, a valve problem versus a heart attack versus a stroke versus congenital heart disease are all very different in terms of what to look for.
Knowing your history can help doctors when every second counts. For example, in a healthy 40-year old, nausea and dizziness might be nothing, but if there's early heart disease in the family tree, doctors might have a different reaction.
The information isn't saved to the web, only to your desktop, emailed or printed, so there's no privacy concern.
You can find it at familyhistory.hhs.gov.