BY SUSAN SIMPSON Published: November 27, 2008

/> He urges Americans to talk about and to write down the health problems that seem to run in their families.

Learning the family health history may help ensure a longer, healthier future together.

Mulvihill says questions should be asked of and about relatives going back several generations.

Asking what illnesses or diseases run in the family or how individual relatives died is a good way to start.

Some diseases have ethnic origins so it’s also important to know a family’s heritage, Mulvihill said.


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Compiling your medical history

Make a list of blood relatives. Include your parents, siblings, children, grandparents, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews.

Questions to ask

• Do you have any chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes?

• Have you had any other serious illnesses, such as cancer or stroke?

• How old were you when you developed these illnesses?

• Have you or your partner had any difficulties with pregnancies, such as miscarriages?

• What medications do you take?

• What about illnesses of deceased relatives? How old were they when they died? What caused their deaths?

Source: U.S. surgeon general


To compile your family history online, go to

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