Chronic Health Conditions

Chronic Health Conditions

While the focus of our nation has been on COVID-19 during the past few years, the leading cause of sickness, impairment and loss of life has remained unchanged: chronic health conditions. 

Its effects are wide reaching, with approximately 50 per cent of all Australians experiencing one or more of these long-term health issues. The most reported chronic conditions are back pain, arthritis, mental health, heart disease, asthma, emphysema, cancer and diabetes.

Almost 90 per cent of all deaths are associated with one or more chronic health conditions.

However, we are very fortunate that there are many opportunities to try and reduce or prevent developing one or more of these illnesses. By reducing certain environmental factors, you can lessen your risk of developing or worsening some chronic health conditions. These risk factors include (but aren’t limited to) lack of exercise, alcohol, smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, poor diet, and high cholesterol.

Unfortunately, there are also certain risk factors (eg age, inherited genes and gender associated conditions) we can’t change, and for people who are in these groups it is even more important to reach out to your healthcare team for help and advice.

Prevention by screening

There are three national screening programs in Australia for common cancers including BreastScreen Australia Program (for ages 50-74), National Bowel Cancer screening program (for ages 50-74) and National Cervical screening program (for ages 25-74).

Screening is important as it can provide an opportunity to find potential cancer, even in the absence of symptoms.

There are other screening programs that aren’t available on a nationally funded basis but may be applicable for your situation ie; skin cancer, prostate and lung cancer screening.

Please speak to your GP or suitable health professional if you would like any information on any of these programs.

Enlisting help from your health care team

In North East Victoria we are fortunate to have access to a wide variety of exceptional health professionals.

GPs and nurses can co-ordinate these services through Medicare funded care plans and team care arrangements, while managing the more intricate details of your health.

Community pharmacists have a myriad of programs avail- able to manage the medication required to reduce the impact of chronic health issues.

Your GP can also organise a referral to a Medicare funded specialised accredited pharmacist to carry out a comprehensive medication review in the comfort of your home or refer you to physiotherapists, diabetes educators, chronic health nurses, dieticians, hospital outpatient services and audiologists.

Together with backing from your health care team and healthy lifestyle choices, we can reduce the impact of chronic health conditions today.

 

Written by Deborah Hawthorne, GP pharmacist at South Wangaratta Medical Centre
Article published by Wangaratta Chronicle

Copyright 2021 Northeast General Practice Services Pty Ltd trading as South Wangaratta Medical Centre and Docker Street General Medical Centre.