Four Diseases I’d Never Want
Spending time working in hospitals gives a good perspective into how severe some chronic diseases can be. It also serves as motivation to help me do my best to prevent myself from getting some of these chronic diseases. Based off of my experience, here are four common chronic diseases I hope to never get. The best part about this is that there are all things we can do in our lives that decrease the risk of us getting this disease.
Four Diseases I Hope To Never Get
1. Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation probably tops my list of diseases I hope I never get. It’s an irregular heartbeat in which the two smaller chambers of your heart known as the atria don’t contract normally. Instead of the normal, “lub-dub” your atria are in a constant state of “lub-lub-lub-lub-lub” where they are constantly quivering instead of actually contracting.
Fortunately there are some things you can control to prevent atrial fibrillation such as making sure you don’t end up with high blood pressure, heart disease, limiting alcohol, not smoking, getting adequate rest, and de-stressing. You can’t control: age and race. It’s more common as you age and more common in Caucasians.
Why I would never want atrial fibrillation:
Atrial fibrillation is one of the most common risk factors for having a stroke. In fact, some people come in to the ER having a stroke because they’ve been in atrial fibrillation and not even known it. Your atria don’t contract as forcefully as they normally would with this heart rhythm. This causes a lack of turbulence in the heart and that leads to an increased risk of clots. If you develop a clot and it leaves the heart it’ll head straight up to the brain causing a stroke.
Most people with atrial fibrillation take blood thinners such as coumadin to prevent blood clots from forming. The problem is falls are one of the major reasons for hospitalizations for elderly. There’s nothing like having a broken hip and the risk of bleeding out after a fall because of blood thinners… Oh, and a lot of new blood thinners on the market have no antidote. One that does, coumadin, requires weekly blood draws to make sure your blood is just right.
2. Type II Diabetes
This one should be a no-brainer. Type II diabetes is where your body becomes desensitized to the effects of insulin in removing sugar from your body’s blood vessels. Sugar just stays in your blood vessels instead of being moved into your body’s cells where it would be used for energy or fat metabolism. The disease is usually caused by years of excessive sugar intake, high alcohol use, and obesity.
Why I would Hate To Have Diabetes:
Constant blood sugar checks by pricking your finger. That doesn’t sound like a fun time. But it has more to do than just the finger checks. High blood sugar levels cause your blood to be more viscous like honey. Thick blood increases the risk for clots which LARGELY increases the risk for having a stroke, pulmonary embolism, or heart attack. The sugar molecules in your body are also larger than your smallest capillaries which over time, if your blood sugar isn’t controlled can lead to: blindness, limb amputations, and kidney disease. Plus you’re also at risk for high blood pressure. Oh, bacteria also loves sugar to feast on. So you’re more apt to get sick with high blood sugar levels. Oh, I almost forgot – high levels of blood sugar increases inflammation in the body. Inflammation also increases your risk of cancer, heart attacks, and stroke.
3. Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
Despite the name, CHF doesn’t mean your heart has failed, rather, your heart ventricles have lost the effectiveness to pump blood out to either your lungs or to the rest of your body. One of the most common types of heart failure is within the left ventricle which pumps blood out to the rest of the body. Causes of CHF are typically heart attacks, drug or alcohol use, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, or even heart defects from birth. So what happens when your heart can’t effectively pump out blood anymore? Well, it only has one places to go. All that fluid starts backing up into your lungs. It’s known as pulmonary congestion (edema) and leads to shortness of breath. All the fluid starts filling up those tiny air sacs in your lungs. CHF is manageable in the long term with a variety of heart medications, diruetics, and breathing machines. In the short-term the disease is manageable but in the long-term it has life threatening consequences.
4. Chronic Renal Failure (Kidney Disease)
Chronic renal failure (CRF) is just as it sounds; it’s your body’s inability to filter your blood through your kidneys over time. I’m constantly seeing people come through the emergency department with CRF. Over time people eventually require dialysis – where a machine filters your blood for you. It’s quite the process – usually they have blood access through a fistula in your arm and the process takes about four hours, three to four times a week to filter your blood. If not, toxins build up in your body and it can be fatal. Your only other option would be kidney transplatants. Major and common causes of CRF are diabetes, high blood pressure, and drug and alcohol use.
Obviously, there are many illnesses we’d like to never have. These however all include lifestyle factors that can help us reduce the risk. What about you? What’s your pick?
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