How to Reduce Your Risk of Chronic Disease

Never underestimate the power you have to prevent chronic disease. Follow these tips to reduce your risk of a diagnosis.

on March 13, 2024

This blog post was written with our patients and participants in mind.

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Chronic disease is common in the United States (U.S.) 60% of U.S. adults have at least one chronic disease diagnosis. Chronic disease is the leading cause of death and disability nationwide.

Millions of people with a chronic disease diagnosis manage their symptoms well and live long, healthy lives. Still, it is a good idea to do what we can to reduce our risk. Thankfully, there are many steps we can take to do so.

Read on to learn how you can empower yourself to prevent chronic disease.

What is chronic disease?

A disease is chronic when the symptoms appear slowly and last over 3 months (en español.) Chronic diseases are manageable but not curable.* People with a chronic disease diagnosis control their symptoms with treatment.

* Research suggests some chronic diseases, such as type-2 diabetes and some forms of heart disease, may reverse with lifestyle changes.

Below are examples of chronic disease:

  • alcohol use disorder
  • arthritis
  • asthma
  • cancer
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • obesity

Anyone is at risk of a chronic disease diagnosis. Some common diseases that affect young adults are obesity, depression, and hypertension (high blood pressure.) Older adults tend to live with hypertension, high cholesterol, and arthritis. 40% of students (en español) in U.S. schools have a diagnosed chronic disease.

Chronic disease can be hereditary. Your risk increases if you have an immediate family member with a history of chronic disease. The environment can also be a cause; research shows that pollution can cause asthma and lung cancer. Finally, the risk of chronic disease increases as we age; nearly 80% of all adults over the age of 55 have at least one chronic disease.

Chronic disease may sometimes be out of your control, but you should never underestimate the power you have to prevent it. You have options available to you to reduce your risk of a diagnosis.

How to reduce your risk of chronic disease

Some experts refer to chronic diseases as “lifestyle diseases” because of the role our choices play in their development. Healthy habits make a difference.

Below are behaviors to incorporate in your life to reduce your risk of chronic disease:

Eat a healthy diet. Try to eat a diet filled with fruits, vegetables, lean protein, nuts, and grains. Our YouTube channel features delicious and healthy recipes you may enjoy. Avoid foods linked to chronic disease, which include processed meats (like sausage and bacon), fried foods, and foods with added sugar.

Exercise. A lack of exercise is a leading cause of chronic disease. It is best to fit in exercise whenever you can. A study in 2023 showed that even 11 minutes a day can improve your health and longevity. Running can be excellent exercise.

Avoid smoking. There is a link between smoking and several chronic diseases, such as lung cancer, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and heart disease. Secondhand smoke can also affect the health of your family, especially young children.

Drink less alcohol. Alcohol abuse disorder is a chronic diagnosis that affects nearly 30 million (en español) people. Recent research suggests that even moderate levels of alcohol can lead to early death. It is best not to drink, but if you choose to drink, avoid drinking excessively. If you think you have a problem with alcohol, help is available. Learn more (en español.)

Get more sleep. Sleep is essential to our wellness. Experts recommend around 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Restful sleep can reduce your risk of diabetes, obesity, and depression.

Schedule regular checkups. A primary care physician (PCP) can help you take the lead in your health care. PCPs offer clinical tests that will clarify your health and needs. They will also be a support system for you to manage any symptoms of chronic disease. Learn how to work with your PCP to improve your health.

We may not always be able to prevent chronic disease, but there is power in our choices. Do what you can to prioritize your health and wellness today so you may live free from chronic disease tomorrow.

If you live in Montgomery or Prince George’s County, Maryland, and want to learn more about how to protect your health, you can set up a primary care appointment with CCI. Call us at (866) 877-7258 to schedule today!