Friday, August 24, 2012

Know Your Family (medical) Tree!

It is so important to not only know your own personal medical history but also the medical history of immediate family members. I cannot stress how important this is! One of the most frustrating things a doctor has to "deal with" is a patient having absolutely no idea of what their medical problems are, or what medications they take. I'm not asking you all to try and memorize everything if its extensive (like waiters try and do, and then mess your order up)...write them down and put it in your wallet!

There are a number of reasons why this is so important. One, if, heaven forbid, you or a family member has to go to the hospital and are unable to communicate, a piece of paper with medications and medical history is invaluable to the physician treating you. Also, and I have mentioned this before, YOUR screenings for different diseases/cancers may change depending on your families history. For instance, if you are so lucky that no one in your family has had any medical problems...it may not matter. BUT, if your mom had breast cancer at 45, then guess what? Now, your first mammogram needs to be at 35, not 40. Same holds true for colon cancer. Some medical conditions have a very strong genetic component (especially some heart problems) and it is very very important to know this. If your brother passed away suddenly at 22 years old from a heart condition...that is important info!

Interestingly enough, the ACC (American College of Cardiology) recently sent out a newsletter/study showing that having a close relative dying of heart disease doubles a persons chances of developing heart disease themselves by age 50. Scary stuff, huh? The study went on to show that  "losing two of more close relatives to cardiovascular disease by age 60 more than tripled the odds that someone would develop it before age 50", while "having a less-immediate family member, such as a grandparent, die young of cardiovascular disease also modestly increased a person's risk by 19 percent".

So...you homework for this weekend and upcoming week is to write down your medical problems and medications and any immediate family members medical problems...put it in your wallet/purse..and do not remove! Believe it or not, this little thing could be a life saver!

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