Having a family history means that a person has one or more blood relatives with a certain health problem. A doctor can look at a person's family history to get some idea of the person's risk for that health problem.

Blood relatives include relatives who are alive and those who have died. They may be:

  • First-degree relatives (parents, sisters, brothers, and children).
  • Second-degree relatives (aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and grandparents).
  • Third-degree relatives (first cousins).

Some family histories are stronger than others. How strong a family history is depends on:

  • How closely related a person is to the relatives with the health problem.
  • How many relatives had or have the health problem.

Current as of: October 9, 2017

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Rakesh K. Pai, MD - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Brian O'Brien, MD, FRCPC - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology & Siobhan M. Dolan, MD, MPH - Reproductive Genetics