Let’s talk about your family medical history

21659068 - medical conceptWhen you arrive at Precision Vein Therapeutics, one of the first things you’ll do is fill out a medical history. Your medical history is an important indicator of the risks you may face and any genetic predispositions that could affect your treatment. Nearly half of people who have varicose veins have a family history of vein health issues, so it’s important to collect your medical history.

We know that sharing medical information with our family members is important, yet many do not do it. A 2014 survey from the University of Utah found that even though many Americans believe compiling a medical family history is important, only 37% have actually done it. A similar survey conducted in 2004 by the CDC found that 96% of Americans consider a family medical history important to their health. As we face the COVID-19 pandemic, gathering a family medical history may be more important than ever. Here are a few tips to make it a little easier.

  • Keep it simple. Start with a simple family tree and then fill out what you know. Talk with your family members to fill in the gaps as much as you can.
  • Don’t make it personal. Family history and relationships can be tricky. Take the emotion out of it, and keep it about your medical history and not the family’s history in general. Here is a great list of questions from the Blue Cross that you can use to keep the focus firmly on medical issues and not drama.
    • When were you born and what is your age today?
    • Do you have any chronic health conditions?
    • Have you had other serious illnesses?
    • How old were you when you first developed the condition or illness?
    • Has anyone in the family had birth defects?
    • What about learning or developmental problems, like Down’s syndrome?
    • Did any family members have mental health issues?
    • What illnesses did late family members have?
    • How old were they when they died?
    • What was the cause of death?
  • Keep it up to date. Medical issues come and go. It may be prudent to keep an ongoing record that you can update with new information as things change. Share this information with the entire family, if appropriate. It could be as simple as creating a shareable spreadsheet that family members can view and update as needed.
  • Share your history with your doctor. Your medical history can be an important touchpoint for your current medical needs.

We know that it isn’t always easy to compile a family medical history. That’s okay. There are other options, as well. DNA testing services can provide a clear picture of your genetic makeup without wading into family issues. If you are unable to work with your family to compile your history, consider getting tested so you can have a clear picture of your genetic make-up, including if you are prone to vein health issues.