Dear Dr. Havlen; Is there any way to prevent a condition that runs in my family—before it affects me?
It depends on the condition. Some illnesses that run in families (breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, among others) have modified screening guidelines that aim to detect these conditions at the very earliest stages for those at high risk. In some specific families there might even be procedures or medications that can decrease your risk of developing these conditions.
In most hereditary conditions, however, the most important thing is to identify any risk factors and then modify them for the positive. For example, if heart disease runs in your family, avoid or stop smoking and maintain a healthy weight, blood pressure and cholesterol level. Or if diabetes is a concern, keep your body mass index in a normal range. Healthy lifestyle changes and regular visits and discussions with your primary care physician will go a long way in maintaining your health.
Pamela Havlen, MD
Skyline Internal Medicine
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