Monday, March 29, 2010

Do You Have a Family Medical Tree?

Holidays provide opportunities for families to reconnect. These gatherings provide an opportunity to ask your relatives about your family's medical background. Even the Surgeon General encourages us to learn about health problems that run in families.

Why is this important? Statistics show that 30% of known diseases are genetically linked in families. You have inherited more from family members than your eye color or dimples. Knowing who has what or died from what can increase awareness and encourage early prevention and treatment. Those families who are genetically predisposed to certain diseases should talk with their health care providers about whether early screening is recommended.

Some genetically linked diseases and medical conditions are:
*colon cancer
*breast cancer
*heart disease
*ovarian cancer
*birth defects
*mental illness

You can start with a simple medical family tree since we share 1/4 of our genes with grandparents , 1/8 with great-grandparents and it goes even lower with relatives further down the family tree. However, for a more complete medical family tree profile the Mayo Clinic recommends including at least 3 generations:

Start by asking relatives for information but if you can't, death certificates may fill in the gaps. What should you ask? Some starter questions are:
* who had or died of what disease
* age when was the disease diagnosed
* sex of relative
* age at time of death
* how were they treated, was it successful
* ethnic background of relative
* signs and symptoms
* other: smoker, obesity, alcoholism

Your genes may cause or increase risk of certain diseases and medical conditions. Knowing your risk will help your health care provider to:
*assess your risk of certain diseases
*determine if family members should get genetic testing
*recommend lifestyle changes to reduce risk
*be aware of predisposition to certain diseases

Once you've gathered this information, create a record and share the information with your health care provider so it can be reviewed for family patterns and risks. One easy, safe internet tool to use is available through the U.S. Department of Health & Family Services. This tool helps to create your family medical tree and share this information with other family members.
Visit My Family Health Portrait Web Tool at:

For more information about family medical trees: article #51777 Your Medical Roots

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Consumer Health Literacy Research Study

How much do you know about stroke or heart attack?

The Trinitas Library is currently conducting a research study about the effectiveness of using interactive games to improve consumer health literacy about signs and symptoms of heart attack, stroke and basic understanding of commonly used medical terms.

The study is also available through the library's main website and also in the virtual world of Second Life at the exhibition hall on HealthInfo Island. Smaller traveling exhibits are being hosted around SL to capture a broader demographic base, such as at Virtual Egypt, Virtual-e Business Park and various garden sims.

The exhibit consists of 3 interactive quizzes testing the participant's knowledge. Answers and additional information are provided in note card format. You can even win prizes! A link out to a short survey through Survey Monkey is offered in a mailbox.

If you are in Second Life, please take a few minutes of your time to participate in this study by taking one or all of the quizzes and completing the short post-quiz survey. If you are not in Second Life, please go to the quizzes on the Library's main website.

Low health literacy affects everyone when you are not able to understand and manage your illness or navigate the health care system. How much do you know about the signs and symptoms of stroke or heart attack? Test your knowledge!

You can find HealthInfo Island under SL's search tool or use this SLurl

Whether you participate through the library's website or virtually in web 2.0, what you learn could possibly save a life==including your own!