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Health Promotion

Managing Chronic Illnesses

The following health conditions are only a few of the illnesses that can occur in our bodies. Please speak with your Primary Care Provider about which lab tests and screening exams they recommended and have them interpret the results to determine the best treatment options for you.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when your body is unable to utilize the glucose (sugar) that is released into the bloodstream after you eat. Normally, the pancreas releases the hormone insulin to let the glucose into the cells for use as energy. With diabetes, though, either you don't produce enough insulin or your cells are unable to utilize what is made. There are several types of diabetes:

  • Type I:  The body is unable to make insulin, so injections of this hormone must be given. It is thought this is due to an autoimmune reaction.

  • Type II: The body makes some insulin, but it doesn't make enough to keep the blood sugars within a normal range. This can develop over many years and can be treated with medications. Lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, eating healthy foods, and remaining active, can help with managing Type II diabetes.

  • Gestational Diabetes:  During pregnancy, diabetes can develop and can put the mother and baby at risk for complications. This usually goes away after delivery but can lead to Type II diabetes later on in life.

  • Prediabetes:  Blood sugar levels are higher than they should be but aren't quite high enough to be considered diabetes. Steps can be taken to reduce blood sugar levels and prevent diabetes.

The following websites ​provide additional information about diabetes and how to prevent the long-term health consequences, such as kidney failure, amputations, blindness, strokes, and heart disease.

Cardiovascular Disease

The cardiovascular system consists of the heart and its structures, arteries, veins, and capillaries. There are many different conditions that can develop due to diseases within this very important system.

  • Heart Disease covers numerous cardiac conditions and diseases

-Angina: Chest pain caused by inadequate blood flow to the heart​

-Arrhythmia: Irregular heart beats, such as atrial fibrillation

-Congenital: Heart problems we're born with

-Coronary Artery Disease (CAD): Vessel disease that affects the arteries to the heart

-Heart Attack: Blockage of blood flow and oxygen to the heart muscle causing tissue injury to the heart

-Heart Failure: The heart is unable to pump effectively

-Valve Disorders: The heart valves don't work properly and include mitral regurgitation, mitral valve prolapse, pulmonary stenosis, and aortic stenosis

-Rheumatic Heart Disease: Damage to he heart that is caused by a strep throat infection

  • Vascular Disease covers many diseases throughout the body

-Peripheral Artery Disease: Artery narrowing in the limbs​, such as the arms and legs

-Aneurysm: Bulging of an artery that can rupture 

-Atherosclerosis: Plaque buildup in vessel walls

-Renal Artery Disease: Affects arteries to the kidneys

-Raynaud's Disease: Spasms of arteries to hands and feet causing color and temperature changes in the fingers and toes

-Peripheral Venous Disease: Damaged veins in legs and arms causing swelling in the legs and feet

-Ischemic Stroke: Blood clot in the brain causing damage 

-Venous Blood Clots: Blockages in the leg that can break loose and lead to a stroke

The following websites provide additional information about cardiovascular disease and various ways to prevent and manage it.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea, characterized by abnormal patterns of stopping and restarting breathing while asleep, is a serious medical condition that can become life threatening and lead to diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. There are two main types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), where relaxed throat muscles cause the airway to become obstructed.

  • Central Sleep Apnea (CSA), where the brain doesn't properly signal the muscles required for breathing.

 

The symptoms of sleep apnea can be identified by the STOP-BANG score:

  • Snoring that is loud enough to wake other people

  • Tiredness, especially during the daytime

  • Observed episodes of gasping, choking, or no breathing

  • Pressure-elevated blood pressure

  • Body Mass Index (BMI) over 35-overweight

  • Age older than 50

  • Neck circumference greater than 16 inches

  • Gender-males have a greater risk of sleep apnea

The following websites provide additional information about sleep apnea and ways to manage it.

Hypertension

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, occurs when the force placed on the vessel walls of the body is higher than it should be during and after the heart pumps blood through them.

 

  • Primary (or essential) hypertension is caused by smoking, excessive salt or alcohol intake, obesity, insulin resistance, and not being active.

  • Secondary hypertension is caused by another health problem, such as chronic kidney disease (CKD), diabetes, sleep apnea, and hyperthyroidism.

Over time, hypertension can lead to atherosclerosis (the buildup of plaque within the vessels of the body) which can then lead to heart attacks, strokes, aneurysms, heart and kidney failure, amputations, and blindness.​

There are some risk factors that we can't control that contribute to hypertension, such as age, gender, genetics, and ethnicity, but there are other risk factors that we can modify. These include weight, alcohol and tobacco use, dietary choices, activity level, and stress.

The following websites provide additional information about hypertension and how to prevent the long-term health effects.

COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also called COPD, causes a limitation of air movement in the lungs and results in respiratory symptoms. The decreased airflow can be caused by narrowed or thickened airways, air sacs within the lungs being destroyed or no longer being able to stretch, or the airways becoming clogged with mucous. A chronic cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, and fatigue are some of the symptoms of COPD. The most common types of COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

COPD can be caused by smoking, exposure to chemicals at work, and air pollution. Smoking cessation and medications can help treat the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. At this time, there is no cure for COPD.

The following websites provide additional information about COPD.

Cancer

Cancer occurs when cells in the body grow out of control and spread to surrounding tissues or to other parts of the body. It can be caused by errors during cell division, damage to the DNA in a cell, or is inherited. The type of cancer that forms depends on the type of cells it develops in. The main types of cancers that can develop include:

  • Carcinomas develop in the epithelial cells that cover the inner and outer surfaces of the body. Adenocarcinomas form in cells that produce mucous or fluid, such as breast, colon, and prostate cells. Basal cell carcinoma forms in the base layer of the skin. Squamous cell carcinoma occurs in the outer layers of the skin and in the cells lining organs such as the lungs, stomach, intestines, bladder and kidneys. (These cells have a flat, fish scale appearance.) Transitional cell carcinoma is found in the cells lining the kidneys and urinary system, which contain different layers and sizes of cells.

  • Sarcomas develop in bone and soft tissues including tendons, ligaments, blood and lymph vessels, muscle, and fat. Osteosarcoma is a cancer that originates in bone.

  • Leukemia occurs in the bone marrow and causes an abnormal production of white blood cells. This affects the body's ability to fight infections, control bleeding, and deliver oxygen throughout the body. Leukemia is classified as acute or chronic (based on how quickly it progresses) and lymphoblastic or myeloid (based on the type of cell it originates in).

  • Lymphoma begins in the B and T cells of the immune system and is classified as either Hodgkin lymphoma or Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

  • Multiple myeloma develops in the blood's plasma cells and can form tumors in bones throughout the body.

  • Melanoma occurs in the melanocytes, the pigmented cells of the body. It usually happens in the skin cells but can also occur in the pigmented cells of the eye.

  • Brain and spinal cord tumors can be either malignant (cancer) or benign (not cancer) and are named based on where they first formed.

Cancer can cause many symptoms including, pain, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, fever, easy bruising, visible lumps or skin changes, unusual bleeding, difficulty breathing, and trouble swallowing. Minimizing risks (such as not smoking, avoiding environmental toxins, wearing sunscreen, and eating a healthy diet) and early detection with screening exams can help with prevention and treatment of cancer.

 

The following websites provide additional information about cancer and ways to manage it.

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