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Celebrate Thanksgiving by Observing National Family History Day

Jessica Rowshandel, M.S.W.
Jessica, Rowshandel, M.S.W.
Director of Social Services
S.L.E. Lupus Foundation

Did you know that the U.S. Surgeon General declared Thanksgiving to be National Family History Day? Thanksgiving, or other times when families get together, is a good time to talk about and write down health problems that seem to run in your family. Knowing your family’s health history and sharing that information with your doctor can help predict conditions for which you may be at risk so you can consider actions to keep you and your family healthy. Knowing your family’s health history is particularly important when it comes to lupus.

Research has shown that heredity does seem to play a role a role in lupus. About 10% of lupus patients have a first-degree relative (sister, daughter, son, mother) or a second-degree relative (aunt, uncle, first cousin) with lupus. But this also means that 90% of lupus patients do not have relatives with lupus.

Why is a Family Health History Helpful?

So if we don’t completely understand how and why lupus is passed down through families why should you create a family health history? It is important to know what other health conditions you might be at risk for. If conditions like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, or stroke are common in your family, you might be at risk. If your physician knows your family health history for certain conditions, it might impact conditions you are screened for and your treatment. You may decide to make lifestyle changes to lower your risk.

Compiling Your Family Health History

How do I collect my family health history? There are many tools that can help Start by asking close family members (parents and siblings) about their health, then talk to grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Ask them what health problems they have had, how old they were when the problem started or they were diagnosed, and their lifestyle habits. You can also ask family members if they know about the health of relatives who are no longer living.

Here are a few of the many free tools available on the internet that you can use to create your family health history. Many are available for non-English speakers.

Start a new family tradition this Thanksgiving and give your family a lasting gift that may save someone’s life, your family health history. And don’t forget to share it with your doctor.

Visit our website for other simple suggestions, print brochures, catch up on our past webinars to learn more about lupus and share the information on your social media pages.

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Disclaimer: This website and its contents are designed for educational purposes only. Jessica Rowshandel, MSW is the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation’s Director of Social Services. She is not a physician. The advice provided is for educational and informational purposes and the Foundation does not recommend or endorse any particular treatment or therapy. The information provided here should not be used for the purposes of diagnosing or treating a medical or psychiatric illness. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional care. Lupus is a very individualized illness; consult a healthcare professional before making any decisions about your care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider. Telephone calls, emails, and online content do not constitute counseling services in any way. The S.L.E. Lupus Foundation does not provide any medical or psychological services to its patients and users. For an accurate medical or mental health evaluation, participants should seek an evaluation from a qualified healthcare professional. S.L.E. Lupus Foundation employees, consultants, and agents shall not be liable for any claims or damages, and expressly disclaim all liability of any nature for any action or non-action taken as a result of the information generated by the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation programs and its website, as well as the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation Facebook and Twitter pages.