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Are You at Risk for Chronic Disease?

Jul 05, 2023
Are You at Risk for Chronic Disease?
Can you really prevent chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease? Yes. How? Identify your risk factors and then modify your habits to protect your health. But how do you what your risk factors are?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease are the leading cause of death and disability in the United States. Genetics play a role in your health, and you can’t change that. However, lifestyle habits contribute significantly to your chance of developing a chronic disease, and you can change those.

Although Dr. Gerard Acloque at Florida Concierge Medicine & Wellness has significant expertise in managing chronic disease, he is passionate about preventive care.

Dr. Acloque is committed to raising awareness regarding the risk factors associated with chronic diseases and empowering you to take proactive steps toward better health. Here, he shares his commonsense suggestions for limiting risk factors for chronic disease and protecting your health and well-being.

Understanding chronic diseases

Chronic diseases are characterized by their long-term nature, often lasting for years or even a lifetime. Unlike acute illnesses that come on suddenly and resolve quickly, chronic conditions tend to progress slowly and can profoundly impact your quality of life.

For instance, type 2 diabetes can evolve over the years with few symptoms. You may be unaware until you develop common complications such as painful nerve damage, vision impairment, or stroke. Many of these illnesses also cause problems with mobility and chronic pain that worsen their effects on your health and quality of life.

You can potentially prevent these long-term illnesses by identifying what increases your risk of chronic illness and making healthy choices. Heart disease, for instance, is still the leading cause of death in the United States. It’s also one of the most preventable diseases.

What are my risk factors for chronic disease?

Several factors increase your risk of chronic disease, including:

An unhealthy diet

Poor dietary choices — including excessive consumption of packaged foods, processed meats, sugar, and trans fats, as well as a lack of fruits and vegetables — can contribute to obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes.

A sedentary lifestyle

Physical inactivity is a significant risk factor for chronic diseases. Lack of regular exercise increases the likelihood of obesity, heart disease, and certain cancers. Additionally, exercise affects your spine and joint health.

Tobacco and excess alcohol use

Smoking and too much alcohol significantly increase the risk of developing chronic diseases such as lung cancer, liver disease, cardiovascular problems, and respiratory conditions. Avoiding tobacco and moderating alcohol intake is crucial for reducing these risks.

Excess weight

Excess weight significantly elevates your risk of developing chronic diseases. The accumulation of body fat contributes to conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and certain cancers. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise is essential for mitigating these risks.

Chronic stress

Prolonged stress can have a detrimental impact on your physical and mental health. Chronic stress has been linked to hypertension, cardiovascular disease, depression, and compromised immune function.

Adopting stress-management techniques, such as meditation, exercise, and seeking social support, is vital in preventing negative consequences.

Poor sleep

Restorative sleep (7-8 hours per night) is necessary for good health. On the other hand, poor sleep habits increase your risk of hypertension, diabetes, difficulty losing weight, and other chronic diseases. 

Taking action for better health

While the risk factors for chronic diseases may seem daunting, the good news is that many of them are modifiable. Healthy habits, such as a nutritious diet and regular exercise, can significantly reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases.

Dr. Acloque also recommends becoming established with a primary care physician who can help manage your risk factors at any age. Routine physical exams and periodic screening labs that monitor your cholesterol, blood sugar, and other important factors can identify concerning trends. This gives you time to adjust your habits before long-term damage develops.

Additionally, if you’re already living with a chronic disease, optimizing medical management and improving your lifestyle habits can help stall disease progression and increase your chances of living a fulfilling life.

Schedule a visit at our office in in Hollywood, Florida, for more help with identifying and reducing your risk factors for chronic disease. Give us a call or request an appointment online.