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Lifestyle diseases that impact your health and well-being

Lifestyle diseases that impact your health and well-being  

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Lifestyle diseases that impact your health and well-being are becoming increasingly common in America and around the world. Obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are all major illnesses that many of us face as we age. While some lifestyle diseases are more preventable than others, the best way to ensure you don’t have any serious problems down the road is to take care of your body now. This article will cover some lifestyle diseases - heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity- how you can help avoid them by changing your behavior now.

Obesity

The epidemic of obesity is costing lives and adding billions to healthcare costs each year, yet has remained a pandemic for decades. The United States is one of the most obese nations in the world with some states such as Tennessee ranking among the top ten fattest countries worldwide. Obesity rates have doubled since 1980 and now over one-third of Americans are obese. This results in about 300,000 deaths annually from chronic diseases related to weight including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. But while obesity may be difficult to reverse without major lifestyle changes like regular exercise and dieting, those who are overweight still do not necessarily face an automatic death sentence. If people can avoid developing these deadly conditions then they can help prolong their life expectancy. For example, someone who is obese but does not have any other risk factors for heart disease might live as long as someone who is normal weight and also does not have any other risk factors for heart disease. Other lifestyles that increase your risk for obesity include lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating habits (such as high intake of processed food), heavy drinking (more than two drinks per day), and smoking cigarettes. A person's genetic makeup also influences how likely he or she will become obese. Some individuals seem to have genes that resist weight gain no matter what they eat or how much they exercise while others seem programmed to pile on the pounds at a moment's notice. While we cannot change our genetics, making better choices throughout our lives can often lead us down a healthier path. You should avoid foods that are high in saturated fat and sugar. Eat more fruits and vegetables and whole grains, drink plenty of water every day, get enough sleep every night, limit the number of hours you watch TV or use a computer, keep alcohol consumption moderate (no more than two drinks per day), quit smoking cigarettes completely if you haven't already done so. Doing all these things together can help reduce your risk for obesity by as much as half!



Diabetes

A person who has diabetes is more likely to develop coronary artery disease, blindness, kidney failure, and neurological problems. They may also experience more frequent joint infections and hearing loss. The risk for amputation of toes, feet, or legs is 50% higher in people with diabetes. Diabetics are also twice as likely to have a stroke.

Your eyesight can be affected by chronic high blood sugar levels, which increases your chance of developing a condition called diabetic retinopathy. Symptoms include blurred vision, difficulty reading, blind spots, and even partial blindness. In some cases, an operation may be necessary to restore sight. Severe cases can lead to complete vision loss. Kidney problems that come from uncontrolled diabetes can cause you to retain water and lead to swelling in your extremities. Problems with nerves (neuropathy) will result in tingling, burning, or numbness in your hands and feet. You might also experience erectile dysfunction or difficulties controlling bowel movements. 

Slow heart rate (bradycardia) due to low blood glucose can make you feel dizzy when standing up suddenly. Untreated Type 1 diabetics must inject insulin to avoid death caused by ketoacidosis-a metabolic state where there's too much acid in the bloodstream. Diabetes makes it difficult to exercise because blood vessels close up and muscles tighten during physical activity. Diabetes causes nerve damage that affects sensation in the feet; so if you step on something sharp or hit your foot on something hard without realizing it, the injury could happen without warning. Cardiovascular health is at risk with diabetes, and people often find themselves unable to keep up physically. Early detection can help stave off many of these risks, though early signs often go unnoticed until they're severe. Keeping blood sugar levels under control through diet and medication is the best way to reduce symptoms and manage diabetes before it gets worse.

If you suspect that you might have diabetes, visit your doctor for a diagnosis. In addition to monitoring your blood sugar level, he or she will examine factors such as age, weight, cholesterol level, lifestyle habits, and family history. Together with other tests like a fasting plasma glucose test (FPG), he or she will confirm whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.



Hypertension

More than 75 million Americans suffer from hypertension or high blood pressure, and the costs are staggering. Hypertension not only affects people's health but their finances as well. The American Heart Association estimates that a person with chronic high blood pressure could spend $10,000 to $20,000 more each year on medical bills alone. Some people also experience negative side effects from anti-hypertension medications that can cause symptoms such as headaches, nausea, and difficulty urinating. While there is no cure for hypertension, researchers have made some progress in finding treatments and minimizing its long-term risks. New drugs to treat hypertension include Vascepa, which is used along with a healthy diet and lifestyle changes. Scientists hope that it will offer relief for those who struggle with hypertension without putting them at risk of side effects. Researchers also think it may be possible one day to reverse the progression of kidney disease using gene therapy. One study showed that nine out of 10 adults who received gene therapy had increased kidney function after one year. However, research into these promising new treatments has been limited due to a lack of funding. It is estimated that scientists need $700 million annually to advance the development of treatments for all major diseases by 2025. It would take only an investment of about 2% of global healthcare spending per year to fund this work. By investing in preventing these diseases before they happen, we can make our world healthier and our economies stronger.



Stroke

In the United States alone, there are over 700,000 strokes per year. A stroke occurs when blood flow is disrupted in an area of brain tissue that governs body functions. You may not be able to predict or avoid a stroke, but you can take steps to lower your risk by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and managing your weight. Additionally, don't smoke, limit alcohol consumption and learn as much as you can about how to recognize a stroke.  Make sure to get proper treatment if you think someone else has suffered a stroke. 



Heart Disease

 Approximately 600,000 people die each year from heart disease in the US alone. According to Mayo Clinic, Heart disease affects more than 24 million Americans every year. They go on to state that heart disease can lead to coronary artery diseases, heart failure, atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm), and other conditions. It's important for everyone to understand the risks of developing these illnesses, so they know what steps they need to take now or what changes they need to make if necessary. It's possible that changing some habits could help reduce your risk of developing these illnesses. For example, eat a healthy diet low in fat, salt, and sugar; exercise regularly; limit alcohol consumption; maintain a healthy weight; manage stress levels by talking about your feelings with friends or family members or through therapy; don't smoke cigarettes or use tobacco products of any kind; avoid sitting for long periods of time while working, watching TV or playing games; drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and talk to a doctor if you're feeling unwell.