What might diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis have in common? You. According to a recent government study, more Americans are dealing with two or more chronic health conditions.
In the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, researchers analyzed data from the National Health Interview Survey. This annual interview-based study asks a nationally representative sample of American adults questions about their health, including chronic conditions—long-term illnesses that affect your quality of life. Think heart disease, diabetes, or arthritis, among others.
Study authors found that more than a quarter of adults have two or more chronic conditions. What’s more, the number of people managing multiple diseases has risen steadily since 2001. The most common combination: high blood pressure and arthritis. For people with three or more illnesses, the most health-taxing trio is high blood pressure, diabetes, and arthritis.
Not surprisingly, age is a major predictor of chronic disease. Those older than age 65 may be more likely to have multiple ongoing health problems. Older men tend to face the most health challenges.
Having two or more chronic conditions can complicate care. It can also drive up medical costs. As you might suspect, people with multiple diseases see their doctors much more often.
Fortunately, you can prevent many of these health woes. The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends these four steps:
An online support group can be a valuable coping tool for people with chronic diseases. It can ease loneliness, offer comfort, and pass along helpful information. Members can share their experiences through discussion boards, chat rooms, or email.
These benefits aside, internet support groups can also pose privacy problems. Once you post your health information online, it may be available indefinitely for anyone to see. Plus, some companies may use your data for marketing purposes.
Do you have a chronic health condition? Click here for tips on living with it.
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