Chronic diseases are a growing health threat for millions of Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 6 in 10 Americans suffer from at least one chronic disease, and 4 in 10 suffer from two or more chronic diseases at the same time. In addition to being the leading cause of death and disability, the healthcare costs associated with treating chronic diseases is almost $4 trillion per year.
The good news is that lowering your risk of developing one or more chronic diseases can be as simple as making a few lifestyle modifications and adding some healthy habits and practices to your daily routine. At Midwest Regional Health Services, our team of primary and family medicine physicians and specialists offers disease prevention services and treatment at our practice in Omaha, Nebraska.
What are the most common chronic diseases?
According to the CDC, some of the most common chronic diseases include:
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
- Kidney disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
Although some illnesses can’t be prevented or predicted in advance, many of the risk factors for chronic diseases are things within your control, such as eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.
For example, numerous studies over the last decade have observed the relationship between heavily sedentary lifestyles and an increased risk of several types of cancer, such as breast, colon, gastric, and kidney cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends regular exercise to help maintain a healthy weight, boost immune function, and keep your hormones balanced, all of which can potentially lower your risk for developing certain types of cancer.
If you have a known family history or genetic predisposition to chronic diseases, a healthy lifestyle is especially important.
How to lower your risk for chronic diseases
While diseases like cancer and heart disease aren’t always preventable, there are several proactive steps you can take to lower your risk and keep yourself as healthy as possible. For starters, knowing your family history and personal risk levels can help you make the right nutrition and lifestyle choices for your health.
Scheduling an annual physical is the best way to gauge your health, and to identify early warning signs of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
Other things you can do to lower your chronic disease risk include:
- Don’t smoke
- Moderate your alcohol consumption
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Get regular physical exercise several times per week
- Eat a healthy diet
- Take medications as prescribed
- Don’t skip out on your annual exams and primary care
- Monitor any new symptoms or changes to your health
Even small changes can have a positive impact, and it’s never too late to invest in your health and manage your risk of chronic diseases. Our team can help you make the adjustments that work best with your health and lifestyle in the short- and long-term.
For more information about your personal risk for developing chronic disease and what you can do to lower that risk, contact Midwest Regional Health Services today to schedule an appointment with one of our primary care doctors.