Control Risk Factors to Prevent Serious Illness

Most individuals seek medical attention when they are faced with a serious illness. In some cases, these illnesses could have been prevented with simple lifestyle changes. Most serious illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease are linked to lifestyle, which can increase your risks. However, there are ways to control risk factors to prevent serious illness even during the later years of life.


From early in life, parents encourage their children to eat healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables. As you grow older, a healthy diet is just as important as it was when you were young. The official Web site portal for the U.S. government affirms that following a healthy diet can "reduce the risk of major chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and some cancers." If you are unsure where to start, talk to your doctor or review the dietary guidelines provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).


Exercise generally goes hand in hand with a proper diet. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that obesity and lack of physical activity are two of the primary factors linked to type 2 diabetes. Many cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented through exercise and losing excess weight. In addition, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) links physical inactivity to coronary heart disease, stroke and osteoporosis.


The AIHW lists various lifestyle factors that can contribute to serious illness. Smoking tobacco is linked to diseases such as asthma, coronary heart disease and lung cancer. The AIHW also reports that smoking tobacco is the "single most preventable cause of ill health and death in Australia." Taking the steps to stop smoking is a key way to lower your risks for serious illness.

Along with tobacco smoking, alcohol can be a risk factor for serious illness. For many adults, occasional consumption of alcohol is not a concern. However, the U.S. National Library of Medicine warns that drinking in excess can cause liver damage as well as increase the risk for heart disease, cancer and pancreatitis. Anyone who takes medications should talk to their doctor as alcohol can interact with many medications, which may result in serious complications.


According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, how a person responds to stress can affect body organs, including the heart and lungs. Stress causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. With acute stress, the body can react by shutting down digestion and even throat muscles. The mental effects of stress can lead to long- and short-term memory problems, which can affect concentration and rational thoughts.

The Mayo Clinic advises to take the first step in stress reduction by making the decision to change how you manage your stress. Next you should identify what triggers the stress in your life and then make a strategy on how to deal with the triggers. Stress is often managed with relaxation techniques such as relaxed breathing or meditation. The Mayo Clinic also recommends taking an active approach to stress reduction, such as walking or participating in sports.

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