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  • Tips on managing Stress
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Sign up to the get fit newsletter
Sign up for the ''Get Fit'' Newsletter
  • Tips on managing Stress
  • Ways to stay motivated
  • The benefits of resistance training
  • How to improve your metabolism
  • Learn why "conventional" diets fail
  • How to target stubborn fat areas
  • Healthy and tasty recipes
  • What muscle soreness really means
  • Learn how exercise affects your mood
  • How to choose the right health club
  • Weight loss and diet myths revealed
  • Flexibility, how and when to stretch
  • How to build personal motivation
  • How to conquer procrastination
Email:
Name:
This Month In Health
  • What’s Your History?
    Every time you visit a new doctor or go in for an annual exam, you’re probably asked to fill out a medical history form. The questions rarely have to do with your scheduled appointment. But don’t worry. They serve a purpose. Read >>
  • Pregnancy and COVID
    Along with the elderly and those with chronic illness, pregnant women must take extra precautions when it comes to the COVID-19 virus. Here's what we know so far. Read >>
  • Need a Hug? Yes, You Do
    From birth until old age, physical touch is important. If the past year of distancing and quarantine has you feeling a bit out of sorts, it may be due to a lack of physical contact. Read >>
  • Better Safe Than Sorry
    Do you have any of the following symptoms? Make an appointment to see your doctor. It might be nothing, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Read >>
Health and Fitness News

What’s Your History?

The important role your medical history plays in your health care.

Every time you visit a new doctor or go in for an annual exam, you’re probably asked to fill out a medical history form. While you sit in the waiting room, it may seem like a hassle to fill out the form once again. After all, you’ve probably done it 20 times already? What’s the big deal with all the questions when your appointment has nothing to do with any of them?
Don’t worry. They serve a purpose. The next time you have to fill out a medical history form, here’s why.

Inside Your History

A thorough medical history includes your personal and family health history. This is why medical history is sometimes referred to as your medical family tree. What health problems are in your personal or family history? When filling out medical forms, be sure to include your blood relatives. At the least, you’ll want to include parents, siblings, and children. If possible, include grandparents, grandchildren, uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews. You don’t need to include information about your spouse, step children, adopted relatives, or in-laws.

A detailed medical history will include your date of birth, sex, ethnicity, pregnancy complications, medical and mental health conditions, and age when the conditions were diagnosed. Note the age and cause of death of close relatives. Health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, stroke, and kidney disease should be included in your health history.

How to Keep Record

Over time, it’s easy to forget everyone’s health history—especially if multiple conditions are involved. To make this easier on yourself, don’t rely on your memory. Write down a brief record of your family’s history and keep it nearby. Not sure who has what condition? At the next family gathering, take a few minutes to gather everyone’s information, taking care to respect others’ privacy. Then, update the list as your relatives’ health changes. Be sure to share your own health history with your siblings, children, and grandchildren so they have a record as well.

Why It’s Important for Your Doctor

So you know your health history and your family’s as well. But why?
Your doctor uses your medical history to help assess your risk of disease, advise lifestyle changes, or recommend preventative care. Many health conditions are genetic, meaning they run in families. So if your mother had breast cancer or your father has high blood pressure, you’re at a greater risk for developing these conditions.

In some cases, medical history is used for health screenings. If your brother had colorectal cancer at a young age, then your doctor may recommend you have earlier or more frequent colonoscopies. With colorectal cancer and many diseases, earlier diagnosis increases the chance of successful treatment.
Health history can also be used to help diagnose conditions. Perhaps a relative had a rare disease, and you’re now having symptoms. Specific diagnostic tests may be ordered based on medical history.

In addition, genetic testing may be recommended for certain family members with increased risk of hereditary conditions. With this testing, you get vital information that helps you make lifestyle choices to reduce your risk for complications later.

Why It’s Important for You

As important as your medical history is for your doctor, it’s even more important for you. Are there clear patterns of health in your family tree? Does heart disease run in your family? Then it’s never too early to start exercising, eating right, and losing weight in order to lower your risk.