Our genetic make-up is a key indicator of what, if any, illnesses we may encounter throughout our lives. As preventative healthcare is becoming more effective at either delaying or preventing inherited illnesses, it is very important to know your family medical history and share this information with your GP.
1 History of Hereditary Health Conditions
"Dad, can you tell me about our family's medical history? Have you or anyone in the family had cancer? Are there any hereditary health conditions or illnesses that run in our family that I should be aware of?"
There are very few families that don’t have particular illnesses running through the family tree, but that does not mean you are doomed to the same fate as your forefathers. Modern medicine is so much more advanced than before so we can monitor and treat many illnesses that was previously not possible. When you know you may be predisposed to certain illnesses, measures can be taken to monitor and in some cases, prevent these illnesses. It is particularly important to share any history of cancers such as prostate, bowel and melanoma with your GP.
2 High Cholesterol
“Have you, or anyone on your side of the family had a heart attack, stroke or suffered from high cholesterol?”
Cardiovascular disease including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attacks and strokes can also be hereditary. It is important you know whether your father or anyone on his side of the family has suffered from these and what age they were when they were diagnosed. This helps your GP help determine your own risk, and what, if any action needs to be taken.
3 Mental Health Issues
“Have you or anyone in the family had mental health issues (including dementia)?”
Some mental health issues such as dementia carry a genetic risk factor so it is important to try and find out if you have a family history of any. Knowing of a history of familial mental health issues means that your GP will pay closer attention to any concerns that you may mention. The earlier any issues are identified, the easier it is to address them effectively.
4 Regular Doctor Visits
“When was the last time you saw your GP?”
While women tend to visit their GP doctor regularly with their health concerns, men tend to wait until their ability to function is affected. This can result in an illness being more advanced when men finally present to their doctor. Admitting vulnerability and seeking help is something we all need to do occasionally. Preventative healthcare is all about managing our health effectively-regular checkup’s are part of that process to monitor and care for our mind and body so make sure to build a health check into your annual calendar.
5 Advice from Dad
“As you've aged, what are some key pieces of advice you can offer for maintaining good health and well-being as I grow older?”
This answer could surprise you. Your dad could have already figured out how to stay in top shape and given that you share the same gene pool, the same approach could work for you too. Make sure to tell your GP about anything of medical significance that you uncover in talks with your dad.