Find your Family History
To help families collect their family history, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Office of Public Health Genomics collaborated with the United States surgeon general to develop a Web-based tool called "My Family Health Portrait."
After undergoing gastric-bypass surgery, Holly, 37, began experiencing a number of medical problems.
"I didn't have any major health concerns before the bypass," Holly says, "except for the fact that I weighed 360 pounds."
Holly lost 200 pounds after the surgery, and for the first eight years following the procedure, she felt great. One year ago, however, she began suffering from dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting spells, nausea and fevers. She developed anemia, high blood pressure and hypoglycemia, and suffered from chronic diarrhea that caused her to lose 20 pounds in just five days. As a result, doctors had to remove Holly's gall bladder.
"I had no idea what was going on," she says. "I just felt like my body was crying out [and saying], 'Somebody do something.'
"Doctors are saying that all of these recent medical issues and health problems are because of the gastric bypass," Holly adds.
Most recently, Holly's doctors recommend she get a colonoscopy because of her family's history of colon cancer. But excess scar tissue from previous procedures makes a traditional colonoscopy a risky undertaking, and Holly decides to undergo the procedure virtually. The virtual colonoscopy is a non-invasive option to the traditional colonoscopy. It uses 3-D imaging to look at the colon.
See Holly undergo a virtual colonoscopy and find out her results.
Gastroenterologist Dr. Jeffrey Sherman explains that if you are at a normal risk for colon cancer, you should have a colonoscopy at age 50. If you have a family history of colon cancer, you are high risk, and should have one between ages 38 and 40.
Colon Cancer Prevention Tips
• Increase physical activity
• Maintain a healthy weight
• Quit smoking
• Get regular screenings
• Eat a balanced diet
• Don't ignore symptoms
• Learn your family history
The metabolic screening test, also known as the heel-stick test, is a preventative health measure performed on newborns. Prior to leaving the hospital, a few drops of blood are taken from the baby's heel. It is then tested for dozens of rare metabolic, genetic, blood and endocrine diseases. Leticia, 35, asks The Doctors if it is necessary and if it will hurt her newborn.
Pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears discusses the heel-stick test and demonstrates how it is done.
Parkinson's disease is a progressive, degenerative brain disorder that affects both young and old people. Jeff, 47, helped his father cope with Parkinson's for 14 years. In 2003, his father succumbed to the disease at age 64. A year and a half later, Jeff noticed his fingers shaking, which is an early sign of Parkinson's. He hid the problem from his family until his wife noticed the shaking.
"I knew how difficult my father's disease was on my mother, and I was concerned about how it would be for my wife and kids and my mom," Jeff says.
"About five percent [of Parkinson's] is genetic," says Dr. Jeff Bronstein, director of the UCLA Movement Disorders Program. "The other 95 percent is probably influenced strongly by the environment."
Dr. Bronstein uses an animation to explain why Parkinson's occurs.
The disease is a result of a lack of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. Taking dopamine agonists, which Jeff does, can help curb the symptoms, as can exercise.
"[Exercise] is very important," Dr. Bronstein says. "It's been shown in multiple studies to actually alter the progression of the disease, not only improve quality of life."
Preventing Blood Clots
Morgan has a family history of blood clots and asks The Doctors if taking a long plane flight could put her health at risk.
E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork says that Morgan needn't be worried, but that she should take precautions. Learn how to prevent blood clots when you are sitting for a long period of time.