A Shift in the Health of Our Nation
Our technological and medical advances have helped to increase the life expectancy of our people. People are living longer lives and in turn developing chronic diseases. The prevalence of chronic disease is continuously increasing due to the population growth and current age distribution of the United States. In fact, chronic diseases account for 70% of all deaths, this includes diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes. Chronic diseases are among the most common and most costly health care issues facing our nation todayi. However, they are also among the most preventable health care issues.
What is Chronic Disease?
A chronic disease is considered an illness with prolonged duration and with slow progression. Chronic diseases are rarely cured completely but can be controlled. They are normally caused by an unhealthy lifestyle that involves physical inactivity, an unhealthy diet, tobacco use, and/or the harmful use of alcohol. Another factor that contributes to some chronic disease is the heredity component. Meaning, if someone in your family has a chronic disease, your chances for getting that disease increases.
How to Prevent Chronic Disease
It is time to shift our nation from a system of sickness to a system of health and wellness, building upon state-of-the-art clinical services and other private sector partners to improve health through prevention. Prevention can be achieved through effective interventions that tackle shared risk factors, namely: tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol. The best way for agencies and professionals to approach this much needed change and reach the maximum amount of people is by:
- Implementing strategies that reach whole communities rather than focusing on the individual
- Continuing to raise awareness through the media and other forms of communication
- Engaging community members and groups within for maximum support
- Connecting multiple sectors to work together instead of working in isolation
- Working with the National Prevention Strategy with evidence-based strategies
iCenters for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/overview/.