According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly one out of every two adults has at least one chronic illness. The prevalence of chronic disease makes it one of the nation’s most significant health and financial burdens. Quite simply, caring for and preventing
chronic conditions helps to better manage overall healthcare costs.
Understanding this, the National Prevention Council developed the National Prevention Strategy to focus attention on the prevention of certain diseases before they become chronic. A key component of this strategy, which highlights the importance of creating healthy communities, is to help Americans make prevention and wellness a part of their daily lives by empowering them with the knowledge, tools and resources to make healthier choices.
A few tips to help individuals and families stay healthy, include:
- Find out which screening tests you need. Both men and women need different types of screening tests depending upon age and/or risk factors. Women should consult with their doctor about screenings for breast cancer, cervical cancer, osteoporosis, and colorectal cancer. Common screenings for men include prostate cancer and colorectal cancer. As a general rule, both men and women should get their blood pressure and cholesterol checked yearly or as recommended by their physician. Sometimes, depending upon age and risk factors, a diabetes screening or other types of disease screenings may be necessary as well.
- Monitor your weight. Finding out your body mass index (BMI), a measure of body fat based on height and weight,
can help determine if you are overweight or obese. The higher your BMI, the higher your risk for certain diseases such as heart
disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. A BMI calculator is available at http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/.
Talk to your doctor or nurse if you are concerned about your BMI and whether you should develop an exercise/nutrition action plan.
- Be health “SMART” about your daily routine.
- Sleep. Sleep is an important part of a healthy life. Sleep guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation recommend adults get seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
- Medicines. Take your medicines as recommended by your physician, especially if they help you manage a chronic disease. Don’t skip doses or discontinue use.
- Active. Be physically active whenever possible during the day. Take the stairs or walk/bike somewhere instead of driving. Devote 30 minutes of your day to exercise.
- Reduce stress. Learn ways to de-stress, such as exercising or simply relaxing.
- Tobacco free. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about how to quit.
- Get the immunizations you need. Talk with your healthcare team about which immunizations you may need such as an annual flu shot, and if you are 65 or older, pneumonia shot. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many adolescents and adults are under-immunized, putting themselves at risk for diseases such as Hepatitis B, influenza, and pneumococcal disease.
- Make healthy food choices. Ensure that you are following a healthy diet with foods that supply the vitamins, minerals
and other nutrients that your body needs. This means eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk products.
Seafood, poultry, lean meats, eggs, beans, and nuts are also important food choices. Avoids foods high in cholesterol, sodium,
added sugars as well as trans- and saturated fats. If you need help making healthier food choices, the federal government’s new
food icon, MyPlate, emphasizes the fruit, vegetable, grains, protein and dairy food groups. This replaces the traditional food pyramid. Visit
to build a healthy plate at meal times.
- Don’t cut back on the preventive care you need and deserve. If cost is an issue, the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) covers a number of preventive services including diet counseling, cholesterol screening, obesity screening and many others. Depending on your insurance plan, certain screenings may be available to you at no cost. For more information, visit