Your Health is Your Wealth
When I look in the mirror, I see my Dad’s eyebrows, my Mom’s nose and almost an equal blend of their skin tones. What I can’t see is the cardiac hypertrophy, a thickening of the heart muscle which can impede blood flow to the heart, that my father inherited. Maybe that is the reason he suffered a heart attack at the age of 25. Nor can I see the sickle cell trait or predisposition to diabetes and gout that run strongly in my family. I spent countless hours studying in school but my most important learnings came from conversations with my parents and grandparents about their health and the health of our ancestors. These conversations help inform me about my own health, the health of my children and future generations.
Generational Health, how family health history impacts your personal health and the health of future generations, is the most important asset in your health portfolio. Your investments are the conversations you have with your family members about health diagnoses and conditions that may affect your health. It is part of our mission at Diversity Health NetWoRx to offer tools and guidance about how to initiate these conversations so that you can be informed when charting your own health journey. #GenerationalHealth is Wealth.
Why is family health history important?
I have a cousin that grew up in the Northeastern region of the United States, but the largest part of both her maternal and paternal family hail from the Deep South. She recently relocated to a Southern city where many of her relatives live and reconnected with them. Through our family social media page, she shared issues with her intense battle with gout in her knees and ankles. She was asking for home remedy suggestions. I informed her that our family had a long history with this inflammatory condition and shared many of the family home remedies. She was so thankful because she had no idea it may be hereditary and happy that her own family was a great resource for learning more about the condition and treatments.
Our story is not unique and happens to families around the world daily. #GenerationalHealth matters, because the more we know about our family history the more empowered we are to take control of our own health.
D-N-A. These 3 letters are the key to your health. Your DNA encodes your genetic makeup and tells the origin of your light brown eyes or your curly hair. Our DNA is hardcoded when we are born and, in many cases, linked to diseases like cancer, diabetes, glaucoma, mental illness and heart disease. Knowing your health history can be a game changer in minimizing your risks for many health conditions. Whether you subscribe to a genealogy service that uses your DNA to decode your ancestry and possibly identify potential health risks or simply take time to discuss family health histories at the next family reunion, it is vital to arm yourself with this information. Equally important is sharing this information with your healthcare provider and the first step to self-advocacy in your health journey.