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U.S. Surgeon General Urges

Spanish-Speaking Americans

To Know Their Family Health History


"I encourage all families to take time to collect important health history information that can benefit all family members," Dr. Carmona said. "Even with all the high-tech tests, medicines and procedures available in today's modern health-care setting, family health history remains the cornerstone of our efforts to prevent disease and promote personal health. It's clear that knowing your family history can save your life."

Vice Admiral Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., FACS, 17th Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service

Health-care professionals have known for a long time that many diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease, can run in families. A detailed family history can predict the disorders for which a person may be at increased risk, and help to develop more personalized approaches to prevent illness or detect it early, when it is most treatable.

To help families organize their health histories, the Surgeon General developed "My Family Health Portrait", a computerized, information-organizing tool that makes creating a family health history easier and more efficient for both patients and health-care professionals.

Helps to collect

the important information!

The tool guides users through a series of screens that helps them compile information for their family members on six common diseases - heart disease, stroke, diabetes, colon cancer, breast cancer and ovarian cancer - as well as information about any other conditions that are of particular interest to the family. The tool focuses on these six common diseases because a genetic contribution is known for each and because a preventive strategy can be developed to avoid illness.

Gives personalized results!

The tool creates a graphic printout that organizes the information into a diagram or a chart that can be given to a health-care professional to better individualize diagnosis, treatment and prevention plans.

Could be up-dated and extended for all the family!

The tool allows users to go back and add more information as it becomes available and have the ability for users to highlight certain diseases, such as heart disease or diabetes, on their family health diagram or chart, providing a picture of how that disease affects their entire family.

All personal information entered into the program resides on the user's computer only. No information is available to the federal government or any other agency and the users will even have the option to download the original "My Family Health Portrait" software and install it on their computers if they have the Windows operating system. As is the case with the new, Web-based version of the tool, all personal information will reside on the user's computer only.

Partnering with the U.S. Surgeon General in the family history public health campaign are The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) , the Office of Genomic and Disease Prevention NIH-NHGRI, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the National Council of la Raza Institute of Hispanic health NCLR.

For additional information about the U.S. Surgeon General's Family History Initiative, please visit www.hhs.gov/familyhistory.



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