Dr. Charis Eng, MD, Ph.D., Chair and Founding Director of the Genomic Medicine Institute states that “Evaluation of family health history still remains to be the gold standard in personal disease risk assessment,” With the advancement in human genome mapping, monumental strides in its application to healthcare have also been made. Screening and analysis of inheritable conditions and mutation down the family line can thus be done (Offit, 2011).
Key features that suggest a strong genetic profile in the participant’s family include; a combination of certain diseases in the family for example hypertension and diabetes, diagnosis of a disease at an earlier age like stroke in the participant’s sister at 25years and the presence of a disease in more than one close relative for example Asthma in the participant’s maternal grandmother and aunt (Koh, Blakey & Roper, 2014). There is, therefore, a high predilection to several familial illnesses, necessitating frequent checkups and screening, a need for earlier diagnosis and aggressive management of the above patient in case of any condition because his or her prognosis might be poor.
Understanding one’s family history helps in reduction of one’s risk of developing diseases that have a genetic component by initiation of lifestyle changes and screening tests with the background that “genomics plays a role in 9 of the 10 leading causes of death.” According to (Koh, Blakey and Roper (2014), based on the evaluation of the participant, plans that would ensure wellness both now and in the future need to be put into place. This includes lifestyle modification e.g. cessation of smoking to decrease the risk of lung cancer that has a double occurrence, in the family history of the participant.
Discouraging a sedentary lifestyle and encourage exercise with diet modification is key and cannot be overstated, to minimize the risk of diabetes and stroke for which the participant is a known hypertensive has a risk of developing. The participant having been diagnosed with hypercholesterolemia may necessitate further assessment to rule out familial hypercholesterolemia and ensure appropriate medication to reduce the risk of macrovascular complications like stroke and myocardial infarction (Offit, 2011). It is worth mentioning that the patient may need screening and a close follow up, to ensure early detection and management of probable malignancies as the family history is most likely to forecast future diseases
Having a family history indicates a genetic component to a disease and this points to a poor prognosis in most instances, therefore, aggressive chemotherapy in terms of dosage and choice of medication may be indicated in case of a cancer diagnosis like in pancreatic Cancer.
There is also a need for counseling about reproductive risks to screen for disorders in the progeny to come to avoid early incidences of diseases like for instance stroke in a 25-year-old.
The above plans only serve to minimize risks and prevent further sequelae of disease and require coordination and collaborated efforts between the participant and the healthcare givers.