Chronic diseases can affect a person’s ability to perform important activities, restricting their engagement in life and their enjoyment of family and friends. Up2Me is a page designed to help encourage and empower individuals living with a chronic disease to take control, improve their health, and enjoy the best possible quality of life.
What is a Chronic Disease?
A chronic disease is ongoing. It affects your health over a long period of time–possibly your entire life. In many cases, there is no way to cure a chronic disease. Diabetes and high blood pressure are examples of chronic disease.
It’s important to understand that your chronic disease is a serious problem. If you don’t believe this, you’ll never be motivated to manage your disease effectively. Managing your disease involves making lifestyle choices and using prescribed medical treatments to be as healthy as possible. Unless you take care of your body, your chronic disease can cause more problems in the future.
When you have a chronic disease, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless, as if the disease has taken over your life. For example, you may need to take daily insulin injections, use an inhaler or monitor your blood pressure. However, you can take steps to control the negative effects of a chronic disease on your health. One method of taking control is called “self-management.”
What is Self-Management?
Self-management is a dynamic process in which individuals actively manage their chronic disease.
Self-management support is a key component of effective chronic disease care and improved health outcomes. Self-management support goes beyond traditional knowledge-based patient education to include processes that develop patient problem-solving skills, improve self-efficacy, and support the use of knowledge in real-life situations that matter to patients.
How Can Self-Management Help Me?
Once you’ve decided to take an active role in managing your disease, you and your doctor can work together to set goals that will lead to better health. These goals will be part of an overall treatment plan.
Additional Information and Resources
Prediabetes is health condition in which individuals have higher than normal blood glucose (sugar) levels, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetic. People with prediabetes are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. An estimated 86 million Americans, or 1 in 3 adults, has prediabetes. Of those 86 million people, 9 out of 10 of them don’t even know they have it!
A person with certain risk factors is more likely to develop prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. For example, risk factors include: age, especially over 45 years of age; being overweight or obese; having a family history of diabetes; having an African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander racial or ethnic background; a history of gestational diabetes; and being physically inactive.
Diabetes increases ones risk of developing serious health complications such as heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and loss of toes, feet, or legs. But, type 2 diabetes may be preventable! You can prevent diabetes by eating healthier, becoming more physically active, reducing your stress, and lowering your weight.
To find out if you are at risk for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, please click here to take the risk test.
➢ Your “Game Plan to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes”
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases developed the following resources and guides to aid you in preventing type 2 diabetes. Click here to be taking to the “Game Plan to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes” homepage.
➢ The National Diabetes Prevention Program
The National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP) is an evidence-based and cost-effective program that helps prevent Type 2 diabetes, and is endorsed by the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is a year-long program that is designed and proven to help people lose weight and make lasting lifestyle changes through developing healthful eating habits, increasing physical activity levels, and reducing stress. Click here to be taken to the National Diabetes Prevention Program homepage on the Partners N Health website.
Blood pressure is important because the higher your blood pressure is, the higher your risk of health problems in the future. High blood pressure (HBP or hypertension) is when your blood pressure, the force of the blood flowing through your blood vessels, is always too high. If your blood pressure is high, it is putting extra strain on your arteries and on your heart. Over time, this strain can cause the arteries to become thicker and less flexible, or to become weaker. If your arteries become thicker and less flexible, they will become narrower, making them more likely to become clogged up. If an artery becomes completely clogged up (known as a clot), this can lead to a heart attack, a stroke, kidney disease or dementia.
Self-management and home monitoring is recommended for all people with high blood pressure to help your doctor determine whether treatments are working. Home monitoring (self-measured blood pressure) is not a substitute for regular visits to your doctor. If you have been prescribed medication to lower your blood pressure, don’t stop taking your medication without consulting your doctor, even if your blood pressure readings are in the normal range during home monitoring.
Home blood pressure monitoring may be especially useful for:
• Anyone diagnosed with high blood pressure otherwise known as hypertension.
• Individuals starting high blood pressure treatment.
• People requiring closer monitoring, especially individuals with risk factors for high blood pressure and/or conditions related to high blood pressure such family history, age, gender, race, lack of physical activity, unhealthy diet, being overweight or obese, stress, smoke, or consume too much alcohol.
• Pregnant women experiencing pregnancy-induced hypertension and/or preeclampsia.
• Evaluating potentially false readings, like:
o People who only have high readings at the doctor’s office (“white coat” hypertension).
o People who only have high readings at home but not at the doctor’s office (“masked” hypertension).
• NOTE: People with atrial fibrillation or other arrhythmias may not be good candidates for home monitoring because electronic home blood pressure devices may not be able to give accurate measurements. Ask your doctor to recommend a monitoring method that works for you.
Click here to download a copy of questions to ask your doctor.
The American Heart Association recommends an automatic, cuff-style, bicep (upper-arm) monitor.
• Wrist and finger monitors are not recommended because they yield less reliable readings.
• Choose a monitor that has been validated. If you are unsure, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
• When selecting a blood pressure monitor for a senior, pregnant woman or child, make sure it is validated for these conditions.
• Make sure the cuff fits — measure around your upper arm and choose a monitor that comes with the correct size cuff.
Small Cuff = 22 – 26 cm
Regular Cuff = 27 – 34 cm
Large Cuff = 35 – 44 cm
Once you’ve purchased your monitor, bring it to your next doctor’s appointment or your local pharmacy.
Have your doctor or pharmacist check to see that you are using it correctly and getting the same results as the equipment in the office. Plan to bring your monitor in once a year to make sure the readings are accurate.
There are several factors that can affect your blood pressure readings. Most people don’t realize their mood, activity, body position, etc. can affect their blood pressure. In fact, simple changes can cause your blood pressure to vary. It’s important to get exact measurements in order to guide your lifestyle choices and your doctor’s treatment plan. Click here to learn how to get the most accurate readings for blood pressure.
Blood pressure is important because the higher your blood pressure is, the higher your risk of health problems in the future. If your blood pressure is high, it is putting extra strain on your arteries and on your heart. Click here to learn step by step how to take a blood pressure measurement using a self-monitoring blood pressure machine.
If you get a high blood pressure reading:
• A single high reading is not an immediate cause for alarm. If you get a reading that is slightly or moderately higher than normal, take your blood pressure a few more times and consult your healthcare professional to verify if there’ s a health concern or whether there may be any issues with your monitor.
• If your blood pressure suddenly or unexpectedly reaches 180/110 mm Hg or higher, wait five minutes and test again. If your blood pressure is still at this level, it is considered a hypertensive crisis requiring emergency medical attention — especially if you are experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, vision changes or difficulty speaking. If your blood pressure rises like this, call 9-1-1.
One blood pressure measurement is like a snapshot. It only tells what your blood pressure is at that moment. A record of readings taken over time provides a “ time-lapse” picture of your blood pressure that can help you partner with your physician to ensure that your treatments to lower high blood pressure (HBP or hypertension) are working. Questions to ask your Doctor. Click here to download a printable blood pressure journal.
In order to achieve lasting changes, setting measurable short-term and long-term goals and actions plans are needed. These plans, along with support from your healthcare team is critical in helping you successfully achieve your self-management goals.