Chronic diseases—defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as “conditions that last 1 year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both”—are incredibly common in this country. In fact, according to the CDC, approximately 60% of U.S. adults have a chronic disease, with 40% having at least two of these conditions.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic disease, it’s important to act now to prevent the condition from progressing and causing additional problems later on. Of course, you should follow any instructions that you’ve received from your doctor. But with that being said, PhysicianOne Urgent Care has put together the following list of five healthy habits that can help manage some of the most prevalent chronic conditions.
1. Minimize your salt intake to lower your blood pressure.
Although high blood pressure (hypertension) is very common—affecting almost half of all U.S. adults—it should not be ignored, since it can increase the risk of developing various complications, including heart attacks, strokes, and aneurysms. Doctors often recommend that patients make certain lifestyle changes to reduce their blood pressure, such as limiting their consumption of salt. Eating too much salt can cause high blood pressure because it forces the body to hold onto extra water in order to wash away the salt. Fortunately, studies have shown that reducing salt consumption can cause blood pressure to begin decreasing within just weeks.
2. Reduce your consumption of saturated and trans fats to decrease your cholesterol levels.
The American Heart Association defines saturated fats as ones that “are typically solid at room temperature” (for example, ones found in tropical oils and animal-based foods like meat, eggs, and full-fat dairy products). Trans fats can be divided into two categories: naturally occurring trans fats (which can be found in certain animal-based foods) and artificial trans fats (which are created by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils in order to solidify them). Both saturated and trans fats can raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, so limiting their consumption can help prevent the development of heart disease and other conditions.
3. Exercise regularly to lower your glucose levels.
High glucose (also referred to as “high blood sugar” or “hyperglycemia”) can lead to the development of diabetes, so it’s important to address this issue as soon as possible. In addition to managing your carb intake, you should consider adopting a regular exercise routine. Exercising helps reduce blood sugar levels by increasing insulin sensitivity, which in turn enables the body’s cells to more effectively use the sugar within the bloodstream. In fact, according to the American Diabetes Association, working out can lower someone’s blood sugar for the following 24 hours (or possibly even longer!).
4. Sleep more to manage your weight.
When you think about losing weight, you probably imagine cutting calories and working out more often. Diet and exercise certainly play a role in weight loss, but so does sleep. Sleeping less than six to seven hours per night can increase ghrelin levels (a hormone that makes you feel hungry) and decrease leptin levels (a hormone that makes you feel full). A lack of sleep can also reduce your resting metabolic rate (RMR), make you less motivated to exercise, and affect your decision-making skills, thereby leading to poor food choices.
5. Quit smoking to protect your health and improve your quality of life.
Smoking can lead to a wide array of health issues, including cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, and strokes. If you’ve smoked for many years, you may assume there’s no point in stopping now, but quitting can provide health benefits no matter how long or how much a person has smoked. What’s more, quitting smoking can help protect your loved ones from the dangers associated with secondhand smoke. And the benefits start almost immediately—according to the CDC, your heart rate can drop within minutes after you stop smoking, and nicotine can be eliminated from your bloodstream within 24 hours.
For More Information
To learn more about what you can do to avoid these and many other chronic conditions, turn to PhysicianOne Urgent Care. We operate a network of immediate care centers serving patients in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York, and we’ll be happy to answer all your questions and provide you with helpful guidance. Call us today at 860-650-3848, schedule an appointment online, or simply walk into any of our locations to get the care you need.