Category Archives: General

Chronic Disease: Continued

A recent new report published by Trust for America’s Health reveals that most states score low in terms of public health preparedness, despite alarming statistics that indicate the emergence of one new contagious disease each year–impacting millions of people across the country.

These nationwide major weaknesses are most evident when assessing whether health care systems are able to care for a mass influx of patients during a pandemic, a major outbreak, or attack. Only ten states have instituted formal programs for funneling private-sector medical staff, supplies, and resources into restricted areas during disasters.

The lack of coordinated biosurveillance systems, coupled with dwindling hospital emergency preparedness funds, help explain why only ten states vaccinated at least half of their respective populations against the seasonal flu during the last season.

The potential of dangerous viruses and other biological agents require increased oversight, in addition to upgrading infrastructure and technology. The lack of an overarching strategic approach furthers the challenges in caring for patients during a mass event.

Authors of the publication reported that a severe new flu pandemic could cost the nation more than $680 billion, with the potential to completely disrupt the global economy. Lead authors recommend that regions, states, and communities develop strong, reliable baseline public health capacities through a consistent and coordinated planning approach. Ultimately, investing in both prevention and ‘effective standing response capabilities’ can help avoid exorbitant costs in both dollars and lives.

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The Cost of Chronic Disease

The primary issue that consumes approximately 86% of healthcare costs in the United States is avoidable chronic disease: while the most prevalent health conditions are simultaneously the most preventable, they continue to cost the country’s budget billions of dollars.

While overall numbers have decreased since 2010, when chronic disease cost the U.S. a total of $315 billion, morbid obesity rates have continued to rapidly spike—a condition that leads to a range of critical health issues including heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

In large part due to increased public awareness, three of the five leading causes of death have declined, yet the trend of chronic disease is still disconcerting and dangerous. Almost half of all adults in the U.S. have a serious health condition, while 31 million Americans over age 50 are at great risk of contracting a chronic illness because of sedentary inactivity and lack of proper nutrition.

Being conscious of medicinal needs and treatments requires a consistently high level of responsibility and awareness. Healthcare experts urge patients to take active, informed roles in managing their health: online workshops have been developed to offer chronic disease self-management programs, which have been proven to significantly improve health status. Moreover, healthcare practitioners and professionals must collectively work together and cooperate with patients in order to create effective health plans, and communicate the ways in which to incorporate nutrition, health, and wellness into their lifestyles.

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Genetic Damage Caused by Smoking

Smoking, the most preventable cause of death, is responsible for at least 6 million deaths annually, worldwide.

New research confirms extensive genetic damage caused by smoking: not only in lungs, but also in other organs that are not directly exposed to smoke. The study further demonstrates that a pack of cigarettes a day causes an average of 150 mutations a year in lung cells.

While scientists have known that smoking contributes to at least 17 types of cancer, the ways in which smoke exposure damages DNA was previously unknown—specifically, how cigarettes cause tumors. Though lung tissue was shown to produce the greatest number of genetic mutations, other parts of the body displayed altered DNA, which clarifies the correlation between smoking and other various forms of cancer.

Working towards tracking genes and root causes is significant, as the underlying causes of most types of cancer are still not fully understood. The new research of smoking-related cancers will help researchers and scientists better understand the development of the disease, and potential preventions.

Yet despite the data collection and scientific studies, a continuation of the current trend indicates that smoking will kill over 1 billion people in the 21st century, according to the World Health Organization.

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