Talking about Nation’s Top Health Issues

What is Good Health?

Health can be defined as physical, mental and social well-being; the absence of disease and the ability to recover from illness. Good health also includes genetics, your environment, relationships and education.  Other factors that can enhance a person’s health are; healthful diet, exercise, and wellness visits and screening.

If you’re not feeling in “Good Health,” it’s time to make an appointment with your provider and talk about your concerns.  Below are our nation’s top health concerns.

How is Health Categorized?

The top 7 national health conditions fall into three groups: physical, mental and unique health conditions, which together paint a complicated picture of health in America.  The Blue Cross Blue Shield System (BCBS) created a first-of-its-kind metric for measuring Americans’ health from birth to age 64.  The BCBS Health Index highlights which illnesses — from major depression to substance use disorder —are lowering the quality of life of people across the nation.

PHYSICAL

Hypertension – More commonly known as high blood pressure, hypertension is “a common disease in which blood flows through blood vessels, or arteries, at higher than normal pressures,” according to the National Institutes of Health. Hypertension occurs when the force against the artery walls is too high, which can cause heart attack or stroke. It can be associated with advanced age, obesity, smoking and stress. Hypertension is also known as the silent killer because it has no early significant symptoms but creates an extra load on the heart and blood vessels.

There are four stages of high blood pressure or hypertension:

STAGE 1 or Prehypertension is 120/80 to 139/89.

STAGE 2 or Mild Hypertension is 140/90 to 159/99.

STAGE 3 or Moderate Hypertension is 160/100 to 179/109.

STAGE 4 or Severe Hypertension is 180/110 or higher.

High Cholesterol – When levels of cholesterol are too high, fatty deposits can begin to build up in blood vessels and arteries, restricting blood flow. High cholesterol, which can be hereditary or from the result of unhealthy diet and lifestyle choices, can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Total cholesterol levels less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) are considered desirable for adults. A reading between 200 and 239 mg/dL is considered borderline high and a reading of 240 mg/dL and above is considered high. LDL cholesterol levels “The Bad Cholesterol,” should be less than 100 mg/dL.

Coronary Artery Disease – High blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and diabetes can all damage or injure the inner layer of coronary arteries. Over time, the damage can worsen and become coronary artery disease, putting you at much higher risk of heart attack.

Type 2 Diabetes – In people with diabetes, blood sugar levels rise higher than normal. Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, is caused by obesity and lack of physical activity in about 90% of cases in the U.S.

MENTAL

Major Depression – Major depression, which frequently goes undiagnosed or untreated, is a mental illness characterized by a constant sense of hopelessness and despair, making it difficult to work, sleep or eat. The condition affects adults, teens and children.

UNIQUE HEALTH CONCERNS

Substance Use Disorder – Also known as a drug use disorder, a substance use disorder involves an overuse of, or dependence on, a medication or toxin. Addiction can cause serious mental and physical injury, overdose and even death.

Alcohol Use Disorder – The National Institutes of Health define alcohol use disorder as a “chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using.” Very high blood alcohol levels can result in coma or death, and withdrawal from alcohol can cause hallucinations or even seizures.

Talking With Your Doctor about Your Health Concerns

Through preventative care, we hope that the top health concerns do not relate to you.  However, if they do – much of the communication between doctor and patient is personal. To have a good partnership with your doctor, it is important to talk about sensitive subjects, like sex, memory problems, weight management and substance abuse; even if you are embarrassed or uncomfortable.  Most doctors are used to talking about personal matters and will try to ease your discomfort.  This is especially true of Piedmont Family Practice providers, where we try to treat you like family.

If any of the top National Health Concerns are personal concerns for you, now is the time to schedule an appointment with your provider and have serious conversations.  Health isn’t a “One Size Fits All.”  Living your best healthful life starts with having open and honest conversations and developing a health plan that’s as unique as you are.