Chronic Condition Reference

Asthma

Asthma is quite common. It can be triggered by environmental triggers such as allergies to pets or pollens, infections, cold temperatures, stress, and sometimes exercise. It is a common reason for emergency room visits and sometimes hospital admissions. It is best managed by avoidance of triggers when possible and regular use of medication. The number one reason for poor asthma control is lack of adherence to a medication regimen that includes an inhaled steroid in addition to a bronchodilator. Educating patients about the triggers and the importance of medication compliance are key to controlling this condition.

Back Pain and Neck Pain

Back injury prevention programs and core strengthening programs are effective in preventing injury and getting individuals back to work. In the workplace, attention to ergonomics of workstations is important in reducing back and neck pain. Monitoring the trend in high cost radiology for back pain and surgery for herniated discs is important to establish the need for low back pain condition management programs and pre-certification programs in high cost radiology. Evaluation along with proper treatment of back pain and neck pain should limit the early use of high cost radiology, including MRI and CT scans, and early back surgery for herniated discs and other back ailments. Preventive practices in postural alignment, availability of therapeutic alternative treatments ,such as PT, acupuncture, pain treatment, and steroid injections, help promote lower cost, higher efficacy solutions.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

The most common cause of COPD is smoking. Unfortunately about 23% of American adults still smoke. COPD commonly includes chronic emphysema and bronchitis. The condition is associated with significant lost work time and high health costs. It is progressive and remains the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. There is no cure. Treatment is aimed at managing exacerbations of the disease. The most important step in treatment is to encourage those who are still smoking to stop. This can be aided by implementing a smoking cessation program that combines behavioral modification with medication.

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

This the most common type of chronic heart disease. It is caused by the build up of plaque in the arteries supplying oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle. Plaque consists of a number of substances, including cholesterol, other fats, and calcium. CAD can result in chest pain (angina), heart attacks, abnormal heart rhythms, and congestive heart failure. It can be minimized or ameliorated by implementing healthy lifestyle habits that include regular exercise, a healthy diet, and successful work-life balance. Medications also play a significant role, so compliance with a medication regimen is important.

Depression

Depression is common, whether it is mild, moderate, or severe. It is often associated with other chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and chronic pain. It is most commonly managed with medication. These drugs are expensive so employees should be aware of several good generic antidepressants that are now available. Several studies indicate that regular sleep and exercise, combined with a strong social network, can reduce the incidence and severity of depression and also reduce the need for medication.

Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes continues to increase in the U.S. The prevalence is a direct result of poor lifestyle choices, including inactivity and poor dietary choices that result in obesity and diabetes. This a particularly serious chronic disease because it affects so many different body systems, including the heart, the eyes, the kidneys, and the blood vessels. Poorly controlled diabetes results in accelerated decline in these body systems, a decline in quality of life, and high health costs. Like many of the other chronic conditions, it is best managed by implementing healthy lifestyle habits that include regular exercise, a healthy diet, and successful work-life balance. For those with established type 2 diabetes, it is very important that regular monitoring of the condition is done in order to avoid some of the serious complications.

Hyperlipidemia

An abnormally elevated lipid profile is a risk factor for heart disease. The lipid profile includes measurement of cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL and HLD cholesterol. There is a genetic component to lipid levels that can make it more challenging for some individuals to control their lipid levels. But for most people lipid levels can be managed by implementing healthy lifestyle habits that include regular exercise, a healthy diet, and successful work-life balance. But many people now are prescribed medication to help control lipids. These medications are called “statins” and a variety of medication options are available.

Hypertension

High blood pressure is very common. Sometimes there is an increased risk for an individual due to genetic makeup. For most people blood pressure gradually rises with age. Hypertension is a significant risk factor for heart attack, stroke, impaired vision, kidney damage, and congestive heart failure. Hypertension can be ameliorated by implementing healthy lifestyle habits that include regular exercise, a healthy diet, and successful work-life balance. Also for many, a diet low in sodium is helpful. There are many medications that can help control blood pressure. As with any treatment for chronic disease, compliance is essential for effective management.

Osteoarthritis

About 21 million Americans have osteoarthritis. The incidence increases with age. It is associated with a breakdown of cartilage in joints and can occur in almost any joint in the body. It most commonly occurs in the weight bearing joints of the hips, knees, and spine. Factors associated with its onset include obesity, injury, joint overuse, and heredity. Osteoarthritis generates a lot of medical expense due to the cost of pain medications, diagnostic imaging, and surgical procedures (especially of the hip and lower back). Exercise and physical therapy are important restorative and preventive measures. Weight management and good nutrition are often helpful as well.