Why Knowing Your Family Health History Matters

By Stacy Quinn | Posted Mar 11, 2024

As someone who has worked in the medical/healthcare industry for many years, I’ve said, heard or written the phrase “know your family health history” many, many times. But like so many of the health messages we hear, I’ve never really stopped to think of what this one might mean to me. After all, at the time of my stroke, I considered myself to be 100% healthy—plus, I exercised and ate right, so I felt like I had my bases covered.

A Balanced Heart Is A Healthy Heart

Are you living from the heart? Find out. Take our brief quiz to get your own #LiveFromTheHeart tip sheet.

Take the quiz!


Saying “I wish I had” is definitely an understatement.


Stay in the know

If I had paid attention, I would have known (or remembered) that when I was younger, my dad had a stroke and also experienced a carotid artery dissection (CAD)—which turned out to be the same condition I later learned I had—which could have killed me.


Three in 100,000 people will have a CAD in their lifetime, but many people don’t know about it, and many patients are misdiagnosed. If you don’t know my story, you can read the details about what happened here.


Neurologists believe there may be a family link to CAD, but it hasn’t yet been scientifically proven. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of research out there about CAD.


Have your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles had health issues? How much do you know about their condition, what caused it and how did it impact them?


Learn Your Medical History 

I encourage you to ask your family about their medical history and collect the information. Then, at your next doctor visit, be sure to share it. Your doctor can enter this information into your permanent health record. This means it can be used to develop a more complete picture of your health and your risk factors for disease. Then, with your healthcare provider, you can work on ways to reduce any risks you may have.


Visit the American Medical Association’s Collecting a Family History to learn more, access resources and watch a video. 


To read this article in its entirety please click HERE