Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A better way to a healthier community

By: Anne-Laura Cook, MD, FACP, MHCM Medical Director, Population Health Management & Primary Care Innovation Baptist Health Centers

Many of us struggle to make our own health a priority. It’s easy to put everything else first – work, finances, social life. Health seems like something remote, something you can always deal with later when you have the time, or when you are forced to pay attention to it. Maybe health seems too hard, too expensive or simply out of your control.

You can’t do much about your genes or family history, but there some things that you can control and that have a tremendous impact on your health.

Five Modifiable Risk Factors to Prevent or Control Chronic Disease:

• Tobacco Use

• Diabetes and Pre-diabetes

• High Cholesterol

• High Blood Pressure

• Excess Weight and Physical Inactivity

In this post, we will discuss the first two risk factors:

Tobacco Use

Lung cancer is now the leading cause of cancer death in the United States for both men and women, and is the most preventable form of cancer death in the world. Tobacco use causes 87 percent of lung cancer deaths in men and 70 percent of lung cancer deaths in women. (Source: Cancer Facts & Figures 2014) Do you know that more than one in every five people in Alabama still smoke cigarettes?

Nicotine, which is found in all tobacco products, is a highly addictive substance. Only about four to seven percent of people are able to quit smoking on any given attempt without medicines or other help. Baptist Health System, via the Be Well program – focusing on workforce health, will begin its first intensive Tobacco Treatment program this October. We will use a proven, evidence-based approach modelled after the University of Mississippi’s ACT Center Tobacco Treatment program. Our program includes the use of a variety of medications to counter nicotine addiction as well as group counseling sessions that help participants get the skills they need to quit and stay quit.

Diabetes and Pre-diabetes

Alabama frequently boasts about being in first place. Did you know that Alabama has the highest percentage of people with diabetes – 13.8 percent - higher than any other state in the country? What’s worse, one in four people with diabetes do not even know they have the condition.

Adults, especially those who are overweight or who have a family history of diabetes, should have their blood sugar tested to screen for diabetes either at a doctor’s office or a workplace health screening. Once you know that you have diabetes, it is time to get educated. Baptist Health System has a Diabetes Self-Management Education program, accredited by the American Diabetes Association. Our program teaches people with diabetes the skills they need to take care of themselves, including:

• Healthy eating • Being active

• Monitoring

• Taking medication

• Problem solving

• Healthy coping

• Reducing risks

Have you ever been told that your blood sugar is “borderline”? That could mean that you have prediabetes. One in three adults in the United States have prediabetes; nine out of 10 people with prediabetes do not know they have the condition. Without lifestyle changes to improve their health, 15 percent to 30 percent of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years. (Source: National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2014). So what can you do?

1. Have your blood sugar tested. Find out if you are one of the 86 million Americans with pre-diabetes.

2. Lose five to seven percent of your body weight. For a 200-pound person, that is 10 to 14 pounds. Can you lose more weight than that? Sure! However, losing just five to seven percent of your body weight will significantly decrease your risk of developing diabetes.

3. Be active. Getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week (that’s 30 minutes a day, five days a week, of an activity such as brisk walking) reduces your risk of developing diabetes.

Do you know that the YMCA of Greater Birmingham has a Diabetes Prevention Program? The 12-month program consists of 16 one-hour, weekly group sessions, followed by monthly sessions led by a trained lifestyle coach. To qualify for the program, you must be at least 18 years old, overweight (BMI>25) and at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes or have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes.

Baptist Health System wants to change the way you think about your health. We want to prepare you to take better care of yourself and help you prevent chronic illness. We want you to spend more time doing the things that matter to you – we want you to Be Well.

Look for future posts on the remaining Five Modifiable Risk Factors to Prevent or Control Chronic Disease in the coming weeks.

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