Ed Day, Rockland County Executive

November 21, 2017
Contact: Jane Lerner, Director of Strategic Communications (845) 638-5645
                  Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, D.O., M.P.H., CPE, DABFM, FAAFP (845) 364-2512


While celebrating Thanksgiving with your family, Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert encourage residents to take time to talk about your family health history.

Knowing your family health history of certain diseases can help you learn about your health risks and motivate you and your close relatives to take steps to change unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, not exercising or being active, and poor eating habits. Everyone in your family can benefit from knowing your family's health history and sharing this information with his or her doctor. Talk with your doctor about steps that you can take, including whether you should consider screening sooner, as needed.

Don't know how to start? The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) suggests the following steps:

1. Write down the names of relatives you need to include in your history. The most important relatives to talk to for your family health history are your parents, brothers and sisters, and your children. Next, you may want to talk to your grandparents, uncles and aunts, nieces and nephews, and any half-brothers or half-sisters. It is also helpful to talk to great uncles and aunts, as well as cousins.

2. Ask questions, including:

  • Do you have any chronic diseases, such as heart disease or diabetes, or health conditions such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol?
  • Have you had any other serious diseases, such as cancer or stroke?
  • How old were you when you developed these diseases?
  • Also ask about any childhood health problems or birth defects they may have had.
  • For relatives who have died, ask about their age at death and cause of death.

3. Write this information down, update it from time to time, keep it in a safe place for future reference, and share it with your relatives and your health care provider.

Your family health history can give you an idea of your risk for common diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. "Your health care provider then can review all of the factors and recommend specific tests or treatment plans to prevent or delay disease," said Dr. Ruppert.

Visit these websites for more information and tools to help you collect your family health history: and