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5 Health Conditions That May Run in Your Family

July 10, 2024

If you dread filling out your family health history at the doctor’s office, you’re not alone.

But it’s for a good reason.

“We use this information to understand your chance of inheriting a disease, or if you’re more susceptible to developing certain conditions,” says Veronica Plasencia, MD, primary care provider with Hartford HealthCare and Soundview Medical Associates, LLC.

Dr. Plasencia shared a few health conditions that could run in your family, and other surprising factors that you should know.

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5 health conditions that may run in your family

Many conditions can run in your family, but according to Dr. Plasencia, some of the most common are:

  1. Heart disease. Certain types of heart disease are linked to genetics, including coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy and some arrhythmias. Structural problems with the heart can also be impacted by your family history.
  2. Diabetes. Genetics sometimes play a role in Type 1 diabetes, but not often — around 90 percent of people with the disease have no family history. Type 2 diabetes on the other hand is more strongly linked with family history.
  3. Asthma. According to the Centers for Disease Control, you are three to six times more likely to have asthma if at least one of your parents has asthma.
  4. High cholesterol. While lifestyle plays a big role in cholesterol levels, genetics can also be an issue. One genetic disorder called familial hypercholesterolemia causes very high levels of LDL cholesterol and puts you at risk of early heart disease.
  5. Cancer. If you have a family history of certain types of cancers including breast or ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, melanoma and pancreatic cancer, you may need to start screenings earlier than recommended.

> Related: 5 Health Conditions That Show Up in Your 30s

Ethnicity plays a role too.

It’s not just your family history that affects your health. Your ethnicity also contributes significantly to your disease risk assessment, as different diseases are more prevalent in certain ethnicities.

“Conditions like diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer are more prevalent in Hispanic populations,” says Dr. Plasencia. “For instance, among patients with liver disease, fatty liver is a common cause in the Hispanic population.”

A few more things your doctor wants to know about.

But that’s not all. Your health is impacted by a lot more than just your family history and ethnicity. Some other factors your doctor may consider include:

  • Family
  • Employment
  • Education
  • Social networks
  • Religion
  • Gender roles

“All of these factors collectively impact how patients access their clinician, their beliefs about medical recommendations and their treatment compliance,” explains Dr. Plasencia. “This, in turn, affects your health outcomes.”

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How your doctor uses this information.

With this information, your provider can develop a unique plan to decrease or control your risk factors.

“From diet recommendations, ordering tests and referrals, your family health history helps us put together a set of recommendations personalized for you,” says Dr. Plasencia.