A Medical Family Tree can help you
We've all wondered about our past at one time or another, and perhaps even thought about drawing a family tree
to trace our ancestors, but a medical family tree can be of more help.
This is a tree, like a family tree, but it records the illnesses of family members, and shows the
connection between you and that family member. The more detailed the health issues, the more benefit it can be to
Because many diseases are hereditary, the chances of you developing it are higher if a family
member has this problem, things like high blood pressure, diabetes, some cancers, etc. If you know that you are at
risk for a certain disease, you can take steps to prevent it.
Now of course, you have to collect all this information, and this can be done in several ways. If
your family have reunions, then the next one might enable you to get all the information you need at once. Prepare
a survey in advance, and ask for everyone's help in completing them.
Or you could visit each person individually, but this would be very time consuming, and could be
very expensive if your family is spread over a wide area. In this case, you could email them the questionnaire.
What should you ask?
It will be useful to know of their health habits, whether they smoke, exercise, drink excessively,
and also to have a list of significant dates such as birth date, and when any conditions were first diagnosed. What
are the major health problems your family has? Heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, obesity, cancer,
Remember that medical family trees will only help for blood relatives, so if anyone is adopted, be
aware of this.
When you have created your medical family tree, make sure your doctor, and any other health care
professionals are given a copy, so that they can check whether you are at risk of having the same problem. They are
usually very glad to have this extra information.