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What Have you Done for Your Health Lately

While current national debate on healthcare reform focuses on universal healthcare, many believe that prevention and management of chronic disease warrants much greater attention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that treatment of chronic disease accounts for over 75 percent of America’s health expenditures.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, treatment of chronic diseases has contri-buted two-thirds of the increase in healthcare expenditures in the past several decades. Many chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and asthma are preventable. Obesity is a risk factors in many chronic diseases, and the rate of obesity in the United States has doubled since 1987.

Controlling healthcare costs is a key factor in economic stability in our country. In addition to direct costs, lost productivity as a result of illness adds tremendously to overall costs. According to a 2007 Milken Institute study, lost productivity due to chronic disease amounted to $1.1 trillion in 2003. They estimate the costs could reach $3.4 trillion by 2023.

Prevention and management of chronic diseases is a partnership between individuals and policy decisions by organizations and governmental agencies. According to Schneider and Miles in Ageless: Take Control of Your Age and Stay Youthful for Life, lifestyle choices account for 70 percent of good health. By making good choices, you add to the quality of your life and contribute to the health of our country. Some ways to get started include:

  • If you smoke, quit.
    Smoking is a risk factor for stroke, coronary heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, and many other chronic diseases. If you do nothing else for your health, quit smoking.
  • Stay active and maintain a healthy weight.
    Keeping your weight in a healthy range (a Body Mass Index—BMI—of 25 or lower) reduces your risk for a wide range of chronic conditions. The Harvard School of Public Health provides excellent resources to help you get to your healthy weight with a combination of good choices of food and exercise.
  • Get regular check-ups and screenings to detect disease early.
    Many diseases and chronic conditions are more treatable if they are detected early. Regular check-ups and screenings help you maintain your health, and in some cases such as a colonoscopy, the screening procedure itself can help prevent the development of disease.
  • Reduce stress.
    Stress can cause physical, mental, and emotional problems. To reduce stress, eat nutritious foods, exercise regularly, limit caffeine, get adequate sleep, and learn coping skills that help you manage stressful situations.
  • Be a wise consumer. You are in the best position to make decisions that safeguard your health. Get informed, know your options, and don’t be afraid to speak up to get the care you need. Try to understand the benefits you will get from the interventions offered. Sometimes a less expensive option offers better results. Pay attention and make your voice heard in the arena of public policy.

What healthy living choices will you make in 2010?

Happy New Year!




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