It may seem like our bodies take on a life of their own during the menopausal process and through aging. But I believe that some of what we experience may be caused by the self-care choices we make.
Take for instance, a new report released by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, which is a part of the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics. This researchers found that Americans (both men and women) who are middle-age and older are increasingly at risk for many chronic conditions than their counterparts a decade ago. The researchers analyzed data concerning nine chronic conditions: hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, current asthma and kidney disease. The conditions that had the largest increases over the decade were high blood pressure (from 35 percent in 1999-2000 to 41 percent in 2009-2010), diabetes (from 10 percent in 1999-2000 to 15 percent in 2009-2010), and cancer (from 9 percent in 1999-2000 to 11 percent in 2009-2010).
Furthermore, the study also found that the percentage of Americans who were between the ages of 45 and 64 who have two or more chronic conditions has increased from 16 percent in 1999-2000 to 21 percent in 2009-2010. Twenty-three percent of this age group who had at least two of the nine chronic conditions cited cost as a reason for not receiving or delaying care for these conditions. That percentage marks an increase of 17 percent from 1999-2000. The researchers also found that the percentage of people from this group who didn’t get recommended prescription drugs grew from 14 percent in 1999-2000 to 22 percent in 2009-10. The reason for their decision about prescriptions was, again, due to cost.
The researchers' analysis also found that the percentage of adults who were 65 and older who had at least two chronic conditions increased from 37 percent in 1999-2000 to 45 percent in 2009-2010.
So why am I bringing this back to self-care? Let’s just look at hypertension. The Mayo Clinic lists 13 risk factors for high blood pressure. Of those, eight are within your control. These factors related to self-care choices that you can make include:
- Being overweight or obese. “The more you weigh, the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues,” the clinic’s website notes. “As the volume of blood circulated through your blood vessels increases, so does the pressure on your artery walls.”
- Physical inactivity. Not exercising leads to higher heart rates, which causes additional pressure on arteries.
- Tobacco. Smoking or chewing tobacco increases blood pressure and also can cause damage to the artery wall linings, thus causing an increase in blood pressure.
- Too much sodium in the diet. Salt causes you to retain fluid, which increases blood pressure.
- Too little potassium. This nutrient counteracts sodium in your body.
- Too little vitamin D. It’s believed that this vitamin may affect an enzyme created in the kidneys that influences blood pressure.
- Too much alcohol. Heavy drinking can damage the heart.
- Stress. Too much stress can dramatically increase blood pressure temporarily. Additionally, eating more, using tobacco or drinking alcohol to alleviate the stress can lead to higher blood pressure.
The same holds true for diabetes, since approximately 90 percent of new cases are type 2 diabetes that often can be controlled by physical exercise and a healthy diet.