Chronic diseases are long-term diseases that worsen over time. They have many different causes and can affect a person at any stage of their life, although they usually appear as people get older.
Chronic diseases usually start with mild symptoms that slowly get worse until they limit a person’s movement or cause disability. Most chronic diseases eventually cause death. Nearly 60 per cent of all deaths worldwide are the result of chronic disease conditions.
Common chronic disease conditions include:
- Chronic respiratory diseases
- Heart disease
- Mental illness
Age, sex and genetic composition are risk factors in the development of chronic diseases which cannot be changed. However, there are other risk factors such as the following activities and health conditions that can increase your chances of getting a chronic disease:
- Alcohol use
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Obesity, or being overweight
- Unhealthy diet
- Physical inactivity
All people are at risk of getting a chronic disease, but there are ways to protect yourself. The best and easiest ways to help prevent chronic disease conditions are:
- Quit smoking: smoking is a cause of many chronic disease conditions
- Get active: physical activity strengthens the body and the immune system
- Eat well: a healthy diet including fruit and vegetables is an important part of disease prevention
- Reduce alcohol consumption: heavy drinking puts a person at higher risk for many chronic diseases
For more information, contact your local health centre or call the Department of Health at (867) 975-5700.