P is for Prevention

Time to Take Charge of Your Health

Making healthy choices and reducing risky behavior can help you stay healthy and avoid many serious illnesses. Some of the most common chronic diseases and conditions, including cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes are the most preventable of all health problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that half of all adults have one or more chronic conditions. Working to improve your health can increase your odds of living a long and productive life. Here are 10 ways you can help yourself:

Check your blood pressure. High blood pressure is called the silent killer because it has no symptoms. It can lead to stroke, heart attack, kidney damage, vision loss and even death. Normal blood pressure is in the range of 120/80 or less.

Get moving. Physical inactivity is one of the biggest threats to your health. Simply walking for at least 15 minutes a day can make a difference. You should aim for 30 to 45 minutes of activity, five days a week.

Quit smoking. It’s never too late to quit smoking and you will experience an immediate improvement in your health. Food will start to taste better and your breathing will be easier.

Screen for diabetes. Type 2 diabetes (high blood sugar) is a major health problem in the United States. It is the leading cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations (other than caused by injury) and blindness. Yet, caught early it can often be controlled by diet and exercise.

Watch your weight. Obesity puts a lot of stress on your body. Excess weight can lead to diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, and osteoarthritis (a breakdown of cartilage and bone within a joint).

Watch your alcohol intake. Moderate alcohol use for healthy adults means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.

Improve your diet. Poor nutrition robs your body of the nutrients it needs to maintain your health. Eat more fruits and vegetables, less sugar and salt.

Know your family history. A family medical history is a record of health information about a person and his or her close relatives. It can tell you what, if any, conditions run in your family that you should watch for.

Update your immunizations. Having an up-to-date vaccination record is important. This record tells you and your doctor if you’re protected against vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccines not only protect you, but reduce the chance you’ll spread illness to other people.

Schedule a wellness visit. Visiting your doctor when you are well is an opportunity to find potential health problems before you feel sick. By finding problems early, your doctor can help you get the care you need to stay healthy.

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