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    WHAT IS YOUR FAMILY HISTORY?

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | August 2nd, 2015

    WHAT IS YOUR FAMILY HISTORY?

    I always have to pause a little at this time of the year. My father died on August 1, 1986 due to complications of type 2 diabetes. He was only 53 years old. He died 2 weeks before I was to start medical school. Although it was devastating at that time, it would be more of a tragedy if my siblings and I did not learn from that experience.

    Digging further into my family history, I found out my paternal grandfather also died of complications related to diabetes. He died before I was born.

    Diabetes is part of my family history. I am not sure if I will ever be diagnosed with diabetes, but I know based on my family history, I have to do everything possible to either prevent the disease or delay its onset. There are risks factors for diseases that you have control and there are risks factors that you have no control. I cannot change my family (whom I love dearly), but I can do other things. Risk factors that I have control over is watching my weight – obesity is associated with diabetes, getting screened regularly – one in four people with diabetes do not know they have diabetes. I know that I have to exercise regularly and be mindful of the types of foods I eat.

    Other conditions that run in families include but are not limited to certain cancers (like breast and colon), heart disease, high blood pressure, and depression. There are genetic diseases as well, like sickle cell trait or disease. It is time to find out what diseases run in your family. Ask your parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles. Talk to your children. We have a tendency to not want to share this part of our history. It is so important. We can learn from our relatives. We can make those changes in our life to help delay the onset of certain diseases or prevent it all together.

    Helpful websites to get started and learn more:

    Surgeon General’s Family Health History Initiative: http://www.hhs.gov/familyhistory

    March of Dimes: Your Family Health History: http://www.marchofdimes.com/pnhec/4439_1109.asp

     

     

    3 Responses to “WHAT IS YOUR FAMILY HISTORY?”

    1. Ernestine says:

      This is important information and encouragement. I worry about the possibility of diabetes. Currently I have some symptoms of diabetes due to medications that have been prescribed. Fortunately I am tested regularly.

      • Ngozi Osuagwu, MD says:

        Ernestine, thank you for your comments and sharing your personal information. I am glad that you have taken a proactive step to get checked for diabetes because you have recognized some symptoms. A very good resource to learn more about diabetes is the American Diabetes Association, http://www.diabetes.org.

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