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Knowing Your Family’s Health History Can Save Your Life… Carroll Health Group

Author: 18 June 2017 No Comment

Primary care physician Stephanie Buckley, M.D., of Carroll Health Group Primary Care in Mt. Airy, explains why knowing your family’s health history is essential to protecting your own health.

Why do health care providers ask for a patient’s family health history?

A patient’s health is impacted by both environment and genes. Family members often share similar environments, cultures and lifestyles, all of which can impact a person’s health. A family history allows us to gather information about which diseases and individual might be at risk for and perhaps require earlier screening for versus the general population.

What are the most important things to know related to family history?

Men with a father or brother who was diagnosed with prostate cancer would be screened for prostate cancer themselves at age 45 rather than 50. If they have more than one first-degree relative with the disease, the screening age drops to 40 years. (Carroll Health Group)

For women, I advise most patients to start mammogram screenings for breast cancer at age 45. However, if a patient has a sister, mother or aunt who developed breast cancer before age 50, she may require screening at an earlier age.

For both men and women, knowing your family’s history of heart disease is very important as well, especially if family members have had early onset of the disease. Having a history of early heart disease may be an indication for a patient to receive an earlier cholesterol screening, which generally starts at age 35 for men and 45 years for women if he or she is otherwise healthy and without risk factors.

How can patients—knowing their family history—take steps to improve their own health?

Everyone should exercise regularly, eat well-balanced diets and not smoke, but those who are predisposed to certain diseases due to either their genes or environment should especially try to follow a healthy lifestyle.

Scheduling an annual check-up with your primary care physician is also a great opportunity to go through your family history, assess for individual risks and take necessary interventions to improve your health.

Why is it important to have a primary care physician?

A primary care provider’s role is to evaluate and manage your total health, often, quite literally, from your head to your toes. In the event that you do need specialty care, a primary care provider can also help you find the right specialists, coordinate your care and collaborate with all your other providers to make sure you’re getting the safest and most effective treatment plan. It’s like having an expert to help you co-captain your personal health care team.  (Carroll Health Group)

Dr. Buckley is now accepting new patients for annual check-ups, as well as sick visits. To make an appointment with Dr. Buckley, please call 301-829-5906. To meet all of Carroll Health Group’s primary care providers, visit www.CarrollHealthGroup.com.