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Chronic Disease. What is it? What does it do? How does it affect me?
For most of us, we recognise the terms; diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure (hypertension), heart disease (CVD), cancer, stroke, respiratory disease and so on but what we fail to realise is that all of these maladies are grouped under the umbrella term of Chronic Disease.
So how do we define chronic disease? The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that they are noncommunicable diseases that are not passed from person to person, usually with a long duration and generally slow progression . The main types of the disease are already stated above and they are sweeping across not just Australia but the world. The WHO states that chronic diseases are contributing to the increasing number of deaths world wide with CVD, respiratory disease, cancer and diabetes making up the majority of deaths globally .
Chronic diseases are tragic and impact not just a person’s individual circumstances but those that are around them as well. Chronic diseases have a major impact on the quality of life, social and economic effects. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) states that chronic diseases are the undisputed leader for the fatal burden of disease  and the leading cause of illness, disability and death, accounting for 90% of all deaths in 2011 .
The recent AIHW media release states that 1 in 5 Australians are affected by multiple chronic diseases.
So just how widespread is it?
Cardiovascular disease can be found in over 1 in 5 Australians aged 18+ .
Cancer is a tragic killer and almost all of us have been affected by it at one stage, whether it was a friend, family or loved one. In 2009 the risk of being diagnosed with cancer was 1 in 2 for males and 1 in 3 for females before their 85th birthday .
Diabetes can be found in 1 in 19 Aussies and thousands more are still unaware that they have the condition . Make sure to get your blood tested occasionally!
Respiratory diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) affects 1 in 10 Aussies and 1 in 42 Aussies respectively .
These aren’t all of the stats, but you can already start to paint a picture about how widely spread these diseases are, and we still haven’t talked about obesity yet. I am passionate about combating obesity. Let’s take a look at the numbers first before I share with you my story about obesity. Our world is becoming increasingly fast paced, instead of settling for a hearty home made nutritious meal made from organic fruits and veggies, we are now turning to quick fixes such as McDonalds, KFC and Hungry Jacks to name a few. Just take a quick look around the next time you get into a large shopping centre food court, you’d be lucky to spot one healthy organic foods shop! The topic of food and nutritional quality will be discussed in a later post but for now, all we care about is the number. Due to this reason, almost 2 in 3 Australian adults are overweight or obese . Personally I find these numbers a little bit disturbing and I am quite ashamed that we a literally eating ourselves to death. I believe that obesity is the hidden epidemic sweeping our nation, there is more and more evidence being turned in every day to support the fact that obesity results in a majority of chronic diseases and this excess weight we carry is a major risk factor for preventable diseases. The good thing is that obesity can be easily cured. Now that you have an idea about just how devastating obesity is, stay tuned for the next post about obesity.
So you see friends, chronic diseases are taking the world by storm and it most definitely isn’t a good thing. But let me tell you this. WE HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE THE COURSE OF OUR LIVES. These chronic diseases are mostly lifestyle based and that is very very very good news because that means that we have the means to shift our lives back on track to avoid these chronic diseases.
If you’re young, let’s say under 25. Congratulations!! Being young is awesome and you are generally healthy, but if you learn about these diseases early, you can take the necessary steps to walk down the path of PREVENTION and avoid the suffering later down your life. Not only will these diseases affect you financially, socially and physically, they will ultimately lead you to a life full of suffering and pain.
If you’re in your young adult years (our glory years) of under 40, you can begin to see the stresses of life and impact our careers, family, life choices start to chip away at our youthfulness. During this time, it is critical to take the right action to get your life on track. Never forget to hustle hard to get to where you need to be in your career, but never forget to look after your health, because without it, you are nothing. No amount of money in this world can bring you back from your death bed. So look towards curing and repairing any damage you have done to your body and start looking to boost your well being through small but amazingly efficient lifestyle changes.
Now finally if you’re reading this blog and you’re in your middle ages and late ages of over 40, do not fear! You are still young!!! And most importantly there is still time to get back on track. Think about your children and family and hold them close to heart as you begin your journey back to great health and most importantly, how awesome would it be to feel young again?
Before I finish this post, I want you all to picture this. Imagine your health and well being is a ceramic coffee mug sitting atop a kitchen bench top. With each cigarette that is smoked, each drug that is taken, each fast food fatty meal eaten, each day with no exercise, each day sitting at the office, all the stress, free radical damage and so on that happens, the mug slides closer to the edge of the bench top. From first glance nothing seems to be the issue and there is no damage that is noticeable so you keep going. Eventually you reach the edge of that table and still a mug is a mug and everything looks fine, and you tell yourself just that – “I’m healthy, nothing looks wrong, so nothing can go wrong”. Unknowingly that next cigarette or that next fatty meal could push you over the edge, and everyone knows what happens when a ceramic mug goes over the edge of the bench top right? It shatters into pieces and no matter how hard you try to put it back together, it will never be the way it was and it will never be that mug that can hold your coffee again. I love telling this metaphor to all of my clients, why? Because at any moment you’re still on that bench top you can take the steps to move back onto that table, an hour of exercise a day, walking to work, smoking less, no drinking alcohol, R&R, eating healthier, taking quality supplements, and so forth can all help you move away from that edge of the table.
So friends, I beg you to reflect at the end of reading this article. Where are you on this metaphorical table of life? And what action/s will you take to get yourself away from the breaking point/edge of the table?
Let me know your choice of action, so that I can help hold you accountable (Post it in the comments below)! Or feel free to drop me a line for any advice.
- WHO 2016. Noncommunicable Diseases.
- WHO 2014. The Top 10 Causes of Death. Fact Sheet No. 310
- AIHW 2015. Australian Burden of Disease Study: fatal burden of disease 2010. Cat. no. BOD 1. Canberra: AIHW
- AIHW 2014. Australia’s health 2014. Cat. no. AUS 178. Canberra: AIHW.
- ABS Microdata: Australian Health Survey: Core Content—Risk Factors and Selected Health Conditions, 2011–12.
- AIHW Australian Cancer Database 2011.
- ABS 2012. Australian Health Survey: First Results, 2011–12. ABS cat. no. 4364.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS.