Arm yourself with the knowledge you need to take charge of your health.
Approximately 60% of adults in the
U.S. are living with a chronic condition, such as cancer, diabetes or heart
disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
While not all diseases can be prevented, knowing your risk factors allows you
to make changes that can reduce the likelihood of developing a chronic
condition while also providing you with insight that can help you detect the
disease earlier, when it is easier to manage or treat.
Risk Factors You Can Control
Of the major risk factors for chronic conditions, many can be managed through simple lifestyle modifications, including:
Physical activity. The CDC recommends adults aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week.
Appropriate body weight. For adults, a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight; a BMI of 30 or above is considered obese.
Blood pressure at safe levels. Blood pressure is presented as a fraction. High blood pressure is defined by a systolic reading (the upper number) of 130 or more millimeters of Mercury (mm Hg) and/or a diastolic reading (the lower number) of 80 mm Hg or more.
Blood pressure levels. An A1C blood test result of 5.7% or more is considered to be above normal.
Good cholesterol. Cholesterol levels are considered to be healthy if the total cholesterol reading is less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), the LDL cholesterol reading is less than 100 mg/dL, the triglycerides reading is less than 150 mg/dL and the HDL cholesterol reading is 40 mg/dL or higher for men over the age of 20. For women age 20 and older, the HDL reading should be 50mg/dL or above.
Safe consumption of alcohol. This includes binge drinking (drinking too much at one time), heavy drinking (drinking too much throughout the week), drinking while pregnant and/or drinking while younger than age 21.
Healthy diet. It is important to consume a balanced, nutritious diet that focuses primarily on fruits, vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains.
Not smoking. The use of tobacco products increases your chances of developing heart disease, multiple types of cancer, Type 2 diabetes and various other health conditions.
Risk Factors You Can’t Control
Your age, sex and family history all
affect your risk of developing certain diseases. While you cannot change these
variables, it is important to discuss them with your primary care provider
(PCP), as he or she may recommend taking certain preventive measures.
A family history of breast cancer,
for instance, may indicate you need to undergo mammography screening earlier or
be screened more frequently. By disclosing this information and altering your screening
schedule, you increase the likelihood of detecting cancer at an earlier stage.
Don’t have a Primary Care Doctor?
Your doctor can help you identify your individual risk factors and work with you to develop a realistic plan of action.