Are you tired of hearing about “chronic conditions” that affect every aspect of your health as well as your longevity? These difficult-to-manage diseases—some brought on by natural causes, others influenced by our behavior— interfere with our ability to enjoy life, and so we must address them. For example, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, high cholesterol, cancer, diabetes, cardiac arrhythmia, and arthritis are all chronic diseases. They take time, money, appointments, medications, and sometimes medical procedures, to manage; and ultimately require a change in lifestyle and adherence to suggested treatment regimen(s).
Copious amounts of research have shown how these diseases shorten life expectancy. New research on the topic was recently published by researchers in the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery. Led by M. Yousufuddin, M.D., a hospitalist at the Mayo Health System and Hassan Murad, M.D., preventive medicine specialist and health services researcher at Mayo Clinic, the team sought to determine the prevalence of coexisting chronic conditions in hospitalized patients who had suffered a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), and the association of these conditions with 30-day mortality and readmission.
Statistics collected by the American Heart Association show that stroke is a lead cause of hospitalization, long-term disability, and death; and is closely linked with several other diseases and conditions.
The Mayo team looked at patients admitted to the hospital with a stroke or TIA, who had pre-existing heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia, coronary artery disease, cancer, or diabetes. They found that the presence of any one of these contributed to higher odds of death within 30 days. Additionally, patients with cancer, arthritis or coronary artery disease had higher odds of a readmission within 30 days.
Dr. Murad says, “Our results highlight and justify the public health concern about chronic conditions.”
“In addition to treating the stroke or TIA for which the patient was admitted, health care providers need to work with their patients to quickly address and optimally manage other chronic underlying conditions,” he says. “This could prevent untimely death or readmission following a stroke or TIA.”
Does preemptive management of these conditions with life style interventions and best medical therapy reduces the mortality and morbidity of associated stroke? We don’t know for sure, but it is plausible.
We must not think that since chronic conditions are so common it is ok to be lax in their management. Nor should we believe that nothing more can be done to promote health and well-being. Rather, as patients and providers, we must work tirelessly to manage these conditions and take back control of our health and ultimately our lives.