Health Alert: Family history

NATIONAL (NBC) - Keeping track of your family's medical history can be difficult. A new computer program could help you keep up with your family's background and get your health on track.

Family, like it or not, they're yours, and your health is linked to them. That's why it's important to know your family health history.

It can be hard remembering your family history when you're sitting in a doctors office filling out a form - did my grandfather have high blood pressure or was that high cholesterol?

Now there's a simple tool to help. It's called My Family Health Portrait, a website designed to help families gather their health information in one place. Then you can print it and take it to your doctor. Six diseases are highlighted because they have strong family links.

Dr. Michael Murray at Brigham & Women's Hospital says, "Breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke are the six focused diseases of this effort."

62-year-old Pete Zumpfe thought he knew a lot about his family's health background. He completed a family history profile and brought it to his new doctor.

"It surprised me because he looked at it and after 15 seconds he said everybody in your family seems to die of a stroke or heart attack, you're going on baby aspirin."

It turns out knowing your family history is good medicine in preventing and treating disease, and now there's an easy way to get that.

And by the way, the program was launched by the surgeon general and is set up in many different languages to make it easier for families.

Posted by Bryce Mursch