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Chronic diseases are those that last a long time; typically 3 months or more. They cannot be prevented by vaccinations, cured by medication or procedures and they do not just disappear by themselves. Examples include high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, heart disease, asthma, COPD, previous cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and chronic pain.
Acute diseases last a few hours, days or weeks. They include conditions such as influenza, broken bones, appendicitis, chest infection, asthma attacks and heart attacks. Medicine has made great advances over the last century in treating acute diseases and, thankfully, people rarely die of these anymore.
Most chronic diseases these days are managed. This means that as long as patients continue to take their blood pressure medicine or diabetes medicine their disease will be controlled, but when they stop the medication then they will start to get worse again.
Many chronic diseases are also caused by unhealthy lifestyles. Conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and type 2 diabetes are lifestyle diseases. The problem is that these are currently managed by medication alone in most cases and the underlying causes are not addressed.
Furthermore, many people think that they are affected by these chronic diseases because of their genes. This may be true but, more than their DNA, it is their dinner which is at fault. We inherit not only our parents’ genes but their way of eating and living. It is like the old joke that chronic diseases do not just run in the family, it is because no-one runs in the family!
Patients can reverse or improve their chronic conditions with lifestyle change, and reduce or stop their need for medication. However, it is not as simple as diet and exercise as many people have found. Lifestyle measures need to be evidence-based to be effective otherwise people give up because the approach they have tried does not work. It is also only advisable under the supervision of a doctor especially when medication is involved.
Dr Amer Sheikh specialises in lifestyle medicine approaches that can improve and potentially reverse chronic medical conditions. Book an appointment at Prime Health on 01932 504999 or click here to book an appointment online.
AIS Health Ltd
15A Sandy Lane
Registration No. 09835294