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Why Chronic Disease Management Is a Life and Death Matter

January 24, 2019

Chronic diseases are conditions lasting a year or more. They require ongoing medical attention, limit your daily activities or both. They’re serious and kill millions of people each year. That’s why if you’re battling on one, putting together a chronic disease management plan is critical to your longevity.

Chronic diseases affect nearly 120 million Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates chronic diseases account for 70% of U.S. deaths. The chronic diseases causing the most deaths and disability each year in the United States include:

  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer
  • Respiratory Diseases
  • Diabetes

A 2016 study found these four diseases alone kill nearly 33 million people each year.

Integrating a chronic disease management plan could be the difference between life and death. It can improve your quality of life while reducing your health care costs. So, let’s take a look at some of the most critical parts of any chronic disease management plan and how you can benefit from them.

Where to Start Your Chronic Disease Management Plan

The goal of your chronic disease management plan should be to prevent or minimizing the effects of your disease. Most chronic diseases are caused by a short list of risk behaviors like smoking and the exposure to secondhand smoke.

Quitting smoking is a good place to start.

More than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking. Some of the diseases smoking causes include:

  • Cancer
  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Lung diseases
  • Diabetes,
  • COPD

Secondhand smoke exposure contributes to approximately 41,000 deaths among nonsmoking adults and 400 deaths in infants each year.

Chronic Disease Management Includes a Healthy Diet

A critical part of any chronic disease management plan is your diet. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help protect against a number of serious and costly chronic diseases, including:

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Some Cancers
  • Obesity

A diet like the Mediterranean Diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds is recommended.

The DASH Diet is another highly-recommended diet. Originally designed to lower blood pressure, the DASH diet is very effective for the following:

  • Weight loss
  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Managing or preventing diabetes.

A healthy diet, as part of your chronic disease management plan, gives your body the nutrients it needs every day while staying within your daily calorie goal for weight loss.

Exercise is a Chronic Disease Management Must

There’s no question any chronic disease management plan should include physical activity. In fact, a recent study found at least 1.4 billion people are putting themselves at risk for disease by not exercising enough. Inactive adults are at a higher risk for things like:

  • Early Death
  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Some Cancers

The World Health Organization’s latest guidelines suggest a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week. You should also include at least two muscle-strengthening days per week.

Even walking as little as 30 minutes a day provides health benefits. Your exercise routine can include:

It’s really up to you. What’s important is finding something you enjoy and then getting out there and doing it!

Chronic Disease Management and Alcohol

The chronic diseases excessive alcohol use can bring about include:

  • Liver Disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Prostate Cancer

Excessive alcohol use is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 5 or more drinks on an occasion for men or 4 or more drinks on an occasion for women.

Screenings And Checkups

In order to make informed decisions about health, you’ll need to make regular visits to your doctor. Chronic disease management includes:

  • Screenings
  • Check-ups
  • Monitoring and coordinating treatment
  • Patient education.

If you have a chronic disease management plan you’re on your way to preventing or minimizing the effects of a disease. Talk to your doctor if you’re still not sure how to get your plan off the ground. You can also download our guide “Take Control of Your Health.” It provides comprehensive information about blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, and body weight.

Know Your Numbers