More than 40% of New York adults suffer from a chronic disease such as heart disease, hypertension, cancer, diabetes, stroke, and arthritis. Chronic diseases are responsible for most of our nation’s health care costs.
Healthy diet, exercise, and getting enough sleep may help prevent certain chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
If you have a chronic condition, there are important steps you can take to cope and get more enjoyment out of life:
- Understand your condition – Ask your doctor or nurse for more information and for helpful websites where you can educate yourself.
- Adopt good habits – Stop smoking, exercise, and lose weight if you need to. Many people with heart disease and diabetes, for example, have been able to come off medications after losing weight.
- Take responsibility – Learn how to monitor your condition and help yourself. For example, check your blood pressure if you have hypertension, and check your feet daily if you have diabetes.
- See your primary doctor – Since all your doctors may not be communicating with each other, keep your primary care physician informed so they can see the whole picture and make sure you are getting the most appropriate care.
- Keep your family involved – Your family can be a great source of support so communicate with them about your condition, medication, and treatments. Healthy lifestyle choices can help your family as well; making changes as a family will not only keep them healthier but will also help keep you on track.
- Get support – Beyond your family, joining a support group of people who are going through the same things you are can be extremely helpful. Another helpful place to turn is to professionals, such as nurses dieticians, who can provide guidance and a personalized approach beyond what your doctors provide. MagnaCare’s nurse case management program, for example, has helped members lose weight, exercise more, stop smoking, and achieve other health goals. They not only look better and feel better, but have even been able to stop taking certain medications.
Taking steps in managing a chronic condition can make it easier to deal with. You will better manage your illness, avoid complications, and prolong your life.
Dr. Bartley Bryt is Chief Medical Officer at Brighton Health Plan Solutions (BHPS), an innovative health care enablement company with several industry-leading products for labor and the public sector, including MagnaCare and Create, a new marketplace of health systems and service platform.