This site is intended for health professionals only

Brits unaware of family medical history due to fear of “prying”

Nearly half of UK adults have never discussed their family medical history with their loved ones, putting them at an “increased risk of life-threatening conditions”, according to a new survey.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) surveyed 2,000 UK adults and found that people are reluctant for fear of “prying” into “people's private life (18%)”, even though almost two fifths of us (37%) worry that a relative could develop a condition that runs in their family.

Discussing family medical histories could also have dramatic consequences, as 60% claim talking with their loved ones would inspire them to make positive lifestyle changes.

Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the BHF, said: “As a GP it is vital I know the details of any family history of disease when making an assessment and diagnosis with one of my patients.”

Specifically, two fifths of adults (41%) polled knew someone in their family who has a heart condition or died from cardiovascular disease, but well over half (55%) of those couldn't name what that condition is or what it means.

“Although you can't change your family history, you can change your lifestyle and reduce your risk of heart disease,” Knapton encouraged.