Chronic Disease: Better Than the Plague, Worse Than the Flu

If you’re reading this and you’ve got African or European roots, your ancestors survived the Plague – congratulations! But what you might not know is that the very genes that helped your great-great-great-great-great grandparents survive the Black Death may be the same genes that make you more susceptible to chronic diseases today. That’s right, folks, evolution is one great big confusing experiment, and this recent research proves yet again that one gene’s trash is another gene’s treasure. 

Like their predecessor, the Black Death, chronic diseases today are estimated to affect over half of the population, making them a global health issue of massive proportions. Unlike the Black Death, however, chronic diseases are often slower, though not-so-silent killers. But would you really rather have the Plague? For those of you interested in playing this deadly would-you-rather game, you’re in for a treat. Here’s everything you need to know about chronic diseases. 

Chronic Diseases: Here’s the Gist

All jokes about the Plague aside, we acknowledge that it can be devastating to have to endure a long-term, persistent illness, but putting a name to a face can be the first step toward treatment or more importantly prevention of these conditions. By identifying your status and risk factors, ZüpMed can help you develop a plan to be as healthy as possible and to control your chronic condition such that you have the best quality of life possible. 

The Definition

To put the “chronic” in chronic disease, your condition must meet these qualifications: 1) it lasts longer than one year, 2) it affects your quality of life and daily living, and/or 3) it requires ongoing medical attention. Using that definition, the Centers for Disease Control reports that 60% of U.S. adults suffer from a chronic disease, while 40% endure more than one. 

Common Chronic Diseases

Because of their enduring nature, chronic diseases are everywhere and pose some of the greatest threats to the general health of the public. A few of the most common chronic diseases are: 

  • Cardiovascular diseases like hypertension, chronic heart failure, or stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis
  • Chronic respiratory diseases like emphysema or pumonary fibrosis 
  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or epilepsy
  • Osteoporosis

Risk Factors for Chronic Illness

As with any other medical condition, knowing and understanding the risk factors associated with chronic diseases gives you the upper hand in treatment and prevention. 

Tobacco Use

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: smoking kills. Tobacco use negatively affects nearly every organ in the body and contributes to approximately 90% of lung cancer deaths, as well as a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Smoking cigarettes can be a significant risk factor for developing one or more chronic illnesses during your lifetime, so pulling out those nicotine patches is a step towards a healthier you. 

Excessive Alcohol Use

Whether it’s binge drinking (defined as more than 5 drinks for men and more than 4 drinks for women per occasion) or heavy drinking (defined as more than 15 drinks for men and more than 8 drinks for women per week), alcohol can wreak havoc on the body when used in excess. Drinking can contribute to long-term conditions like high blood pressure, liver disease, cancer, and other health complications that make putting the cork back in the bottle a preferable alternative to instigating or worsening a chronic disease. 

Poor Diet

So much of your health starts with the food you put in your body, and a poor diet can cause a domino effect of harmful consequences. For example, excess sodium intake can increase your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. High-fat diets can also lead to obesity or Type 2 diabetes. Shifting into a healthier diet can work wonders for both preventing and treating chronic health conditions. 

Physical Inactivity

As that old Celebrex commercial used to say, “A body at rest tends to stay at rest, while a body in motion tends to stay in motion.” Good marketing campaign; better general health advice. Physical inactivity can put you at a higher risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer, which means getting off the couch and into your running shoes can help you treat or prevent a chronic disease. 

Chronic Disease: Better Than the Plague, Worse Than the Flu

Defense Is the Best Offense: Preventing Chronic Disease

The Black Death affected patients the old-fashioned way: a quick and painful death without regard to lifestyle factors, age, or even beauty. So, in many ways, chronic diseases, disruptive and uncomfortable as they may be, are a cakewalk by comparison. This is largely because some of the most common chronic diseases are preventable through changes to diet, exercise, and other lifestyle choices. At least there’s that. 

Here are a few tips for preventing chronic diseases before they start. 

Quit Smoking

Well, from the list above, you probably already saw this one coming. Quitting smoking, or never starting in the first place, can prevent your risk of developing chronic diseases at the root of the issue. 

Limit Your Alcohol 

We don’t mean you can never sit down with a glass of wine, but we recommend limiting your intake and drinking mindfully when you do. These steps can prevent long-term health conditions in your future. 

Join Our Cardiometabolic Program

Don’t go it alone – your team of healthcare professionals at ZüpMed stands behind you, ready to help at all times. By joining the cardiometabolic program, we’ll help you navigate a healthy approach, with a combination of medication, diet and regular exercise to give you an edge against cardiac and endocrine illnesses. 

Screen Regularly

Come on in and stay awhile! Regular health screenings can help us help you. By staying on top of developing conditions, we’ll tell you when you’re on the right track or when you need to take a step back from some of your lifestyle choices for the better. Plus, we’ll be able to catch any developing chronic conditions early on, making the treatment process that much more effective. 

When Offense Is Your Only Defense: How ZüpMed Treats Chronic Disease

If you’ve already been diagnosed with a chronic condition, we’re here to help with chronic disease management. As your medical home, we take a specialized approach to your care, considering the full range of your health history, labs, and current medications. By utilizing the power of genomic testing, optimizing your medications, and meeting with you regularly, we’ll be your mainstay as you navigate your chronic illness, helping to minimize any treatment and move forward in life with a new plan for success. 

Chronic Disease: Better Than the Plague, Worse Than the Flu

Find Your Medical Home at ZüpMed

So, what did you come up with? Black Plague or chronic illness? There’s a bit of dark humor for you, but the right answer is a no-brainer. Facing a chronic health condition can feel daunting, but the good news is that they’re often preventable or at least treatable with the right steps and the right team. No need to face it alone like your ancestors – and we promise we won’t wear the scary Plague Doctor masks. Unless…

Call our office at (901) 701-7010 to learn more about how we can help you treat your chronic disease with confidence today.