Chronic diseases, which include heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer and chronic lung diseases, account for most deaths in the United States. They are also the major drivers of sickness, disability and health care costs in the nation.
It is also quite common for American adults to have multiple chronic diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four Americans has multiple chronic conditions. That number rises to three in four Americans aged 65 and older.
As a person’s number of chronic conditions increases, their risk for hospitalizations and premature death increases. People with multiple chronic conditions also are at greater risk of poor day-to-day functioning. Having multiple chronic conditions also is associated with substantial health care costs. People with multiple chronic conditions may face substantial out-of-pocket costs of their care, including higher costs for prescription drugs.
The CDC notes that many chronic diseases share the same underlying risk factors: high blood pressure, tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke, obesity, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol use, diets low in fruits and vegetables, or diets high in sodium and saturated fats. In fact, four of these health risk behaviors — lack of exercise or physical activity, poor nutrition, tobacco use and drinking too much alcohol — cause much of the illness, suffering and early death related to chronic diseases and conditions.
Here are some ways you can prevent or limit the impact chronic disease may have on your health and lifestyle:
■ Maintain a healthy weight.
■ Eat a healthy diet that is low in salt (sodium), total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol, and high in fresh fruits and vegetables.
■ Be active. Try taking a brisk 10-minute walk three times a day five days a week.
■ Get enough sleep. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
■ Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke.
■ Limit alcohol use.
■ Protect your skin from the sun and avoid indoor tanning.
■ Get screened for cervical, colorectal and breast cancers.
■ Get screened for lung cancer if you have a history of heavy smoking, and smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years, and are between 55 and 80 years old.
■ Certain vaccines can help lower cancer risk. The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine helps prevent most cervical cancers and several other kinds of cancer, and the hepatitis B vaccine can help lower liver cancer risk.
■ Schedule an appointment with your health care provider to discuss what screenings and exams you need and when you need them. Regular health exams and tests can help find problems before they start. They also can help find problems early, when your chances for treatment and cure are better.
Boulder City Hospital, in collaboration with Dignity Health, is pleased to announce a Chronic Disease Self-Management Program developed by Stanford University School of Medicine.
If you are an adult with a chronic condition or if you are a caregiver for someone living with a chronic disease, this workshop can help you.
The program will cover topics such as: techniques to deal with chronic conditions; appropriate exercise to improve strength, flexibility and endurance; decision making tools; communication skills; and nutrition. The program will be held from 1-3:30 p.m. Fridays starting April 22 through May 27 at Boulder City Hospital. To register for this free opportunity, call the hospital at 702-293-4111, ext. 576.
Further information, including information on physical activity programs and self-management education programs, can be found at www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/
To Your Health is written by the staff of Boulder City Hospital. For more information, call 702-293-4111, ext. 576, or visit bouldercityhospital.org.