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The 7 Lifestyle Conditions Creating America’s #1 Crisis

THE 7 LIFESTYLE CONDITIONS CREATING AMERICA’S #1 CRISIS
BY DR. MITCH MALLY
Most of us tend to think of our health as something we are lucky to have, or unlucky to lose. Today, The following discussion includes some of the time tested principles, proven strategies and best-kept secrets that thousands of wellness doctors nationwide use for themselves and their families. How would you like to learn how you can not only reduce your risk of losing your health, but how you can, in fact, increase your chances of being even healthier?
Many people don’t realize, until it happens to them, how expensive it is to get sick, but let me share with you what is happening to millions of people just like you and me, everyday, across America. Do you know that according to researchers at Harvard University, every 30 seconds in the United States, someone files for bankruptcy as a result of the treatment they receive for a serious health problem?
That’s over 50% of all bankruptcy filings affecting over two million Americans every year. What’s even more surprising is that “three-quarters of the medically bankrupt had health insurance” at the time of their illness. According to the study, “even families with ‘Cadillac’ coverage were often bankrupted by medical problems.”
In the words of Elizabeth Warren, a law professor at Harvard University, “Nobody’s safe.” That’s the conclusion she came to as a result of the first ever large-scale study on the subject of “medical bankruptcy.”
“How can this be??” you ask yourself. “This is America, how can this happen to hard working, middle and upper class families? Unfortunately, it’s very simple. People like you and me are living our lives, working hard, doing our very best to take care of our families and find that one day, perhaps after a routine visit to the doctor, or after we realize we just aren’t feeling as good as we used to, we end up going to the doctor and leave with a diagnosis for a medical condition that requires further medical treatment, risky medical procedures and expensive medications, which are often required to be taken for the rest of our lives.
In many of these cases, within a short period of time, people become too sick to work and end up losing their jobs. Once they lose their job, they lose their insurance because they can’t afford to pay for their COBRA plan, which can be more than double what they are used to paying. The costs go up when people’s incomes go down. In most cases, “the medical bills arrive just as the insurance and paycheck disappear.”
According to the research, these “Bankrupt families lost more than just assets, one out of five went without food. One third had their utilities shut off, and nearly two thirds skipped needed doctor or dental visits.”
Another warning sign comes from a recent story featured on 60 minutes; the CBS news show, which asked the question, is the “U.S. Heading for Financial Trouble?’ David Walker is the United States comptroller general, which that he is our country’s top accountant and he has come to the scary conclusion that America, is in serious financial trouble. “It’s been called the ‘dirty little secret everyone in Washington knows’ – a set of financial truths so inconvenient that most elected officials don’t even want to talk about them.” But David Walker is.
I would argue that the most serious threat to the United States is not someone hiding in a cave in Afghanistan or Pakistan, but our own fiscal irresponsibility,” says America’s top accountant.
David Walker has given up trying to talk to politicians about this problem and is now traveling across America, talking directly to the people on what he calls a “Fiscal Wake Up Tour” because he is convinced that our country’s entire economy is at stake. Walker refers to this problem as a “cancer” primarily because of the “massive entitlement programs” for things such as health care, which about to get much worse because of the demographic anomaly referred to as the “baby boom.” Beginning next year, and for 20 years thereafter, 78 million Americans will become pensioners and medical dependents of the U.S. taxpayer.
America and Americans are going bankrupt due to health care, or dare I say lack of caring for our health. If we don’t do something about this, we are ALL going to suffer the consequences and will be leaving a financial debt to our children that will require every penny of taxes just to pay the interest expense.
The good news is, there are solutions and each and every one of us can do something to reduce our risk of bankrupting ourselves and our country. In fact, when you think about it, it’s really very simple – the ultimate solution to America’s health care crisis – very simply – is to have more people less sick. The only way we can have more people, less sick is to have more people, choose better health through better living. Doesn’t that make sense to you?
Clients come to me with all types of health concerns that often require expensive and dangerous medications that often keep them from enjoying their lives. In fact, it’s very common for a client to come to me and tell me that they suffer from a variety of pains, including chronic headaches, neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain, leg pain and much more. Usually, they have gone to their primary medical doctor who has prescribed a combination of physical therapy, pain relievers and anti-inflammatories and perhaps the pain went away temporarily, but it always comes back sooner or later because they haven’t addressed the underlying cause.
In many cases, as a result of pain, people stop exercising and start gaining weight and this starts a cascade of problems, including depression, high blood pressure, increased cholesterol and increased risk of a variety of preventable diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, stress related conditions and much more. It’s very common that when people stop exercising and gain weight that they have poorer eating habits, not better. They will often start smoking or pick up other bad habits and so the cycle continues. In addition, it’s common that the cycle affects the entire family, as we can see childhood obesity has become an American epidemic and it’s primarily because of our lifestyles and lifestyle choices. That’s the key word here – lifestyle “choices.”
America spends over $2 trillion per year on what we call health care, which in fact is really sick care. That’s more than 15% of every dollar spent in America. More than 70% of all our health care dollars are spent treating lifestyle related chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, stress related conditions, chronic pain and adverse drug reactions. In fact, I call these the 7 conditions causing Americas #1 crisis.
Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease is by far the most expensive and most common lifestyle related disease. Cardiovascular disease is also referred to as “heart disease.” It’s a blanket term that describes a family of conditions that affect the heart and circulatory system, including hypertension (also known as high blood pressure) atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), heart attack, abnormal heart rhythm and congestive heart failure.
Essentially, any condition that interferes with the normal flow of blood falls under the umbrella of cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular diseases are often referred to as “silent killers,” as they typically progress unnoticed in the body for years before they are discovered.
About 950,000 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each year – that amounts to nearly 2,500 American per day or one death every 35 seconds. Heart Disease costs the U.S. more than $400 billion per year in medical expenses and lost productivity and is responsible for almost six million hospitalizations each year. The cost of heart disease in America costs $5,520 per year or $460 per month for every family of four living in America.
Cancer
Cancer is currently the second leading cause of death in the U. S. According to the American Cancer Society, more than half a million Americans died of cancer in 2004; that’s more than 1,500 people per day. One of every four deaths in America is from cancer and over two million cases of cancer will be diagnosed this year. According to the World Health Organization, the number of new cancer cases worldwide is expected to increase by fifty percent over the next twenty years – partly because more nations are adopting unhealthy Western habits.
Cancer is a disease where cells of the body reproduce abnormally, creating an excessive growth of mutated cells that, over time, interfere with normal body function.
So why does cancer develop? Much like a pack of wolves pursuing a herd of elk, or a lion stalking a group of gazelles, cancer looks for the weakest cells in the body to attack. Wherever the body is weakened by stress, toxins, poor nutrition or lack of exercise, cancer has a better chance of getting a foothold, it is true that some people have a genetic predisposition to certain types of cancer, particularly breast cancer, but the single most important factor that determines whether someone will develop cancer is lifestyle.
How much does our cancer crisis cost you? Every man, woman and child in this country has to contribute $719 each year – a cost of almost $3,000 for a family of four. That’s a lot of money.
Diabetes
Almost everyone knows someone who has diabetes. In fact, from 1980 through 2004, the total number of Americans with diabetes more than doubled. An estimated 18.2 million people in the United States – about six percent of the entire population – have diabetes, a serious, lifelong condition.
Diabetes is a condition that occurs when the body has lost its ability to regulate the levels of glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream. This is usually due to some interruption in the production of insulin, the hormone that lowers blood sugar levels. Your ability to regulate glucose is vital to the functioning of your entire body and affects your overall health and wellbeing. Diabetes can be deadly; over 200,000 people die each year from diabetes related complications.
By far, the most common type of diabetes is Type 2 diabetes, accounting for 90%-95% of all diagnosed cases. It usually begins as “insulin resistance,” a disorder in which the cells of the body lose their ability to use insulin properly. Why would the body’s cells develop insulin resistance in the first place? Aging and family history are factors, but Type two diabetes is also widely associated with lifestyle habits such as lack of exercise, obesity, poor diet and stress.
Diabetes costs $452 per person, per year. That’s $1,808 that your family of four pays just for diabetes in America.
Chronic Pain
The word pain comes from the Latin work poena – meaning a fine or penalty, you should think about pain as the primary way that your body lets you know that something is wrong and needs your attention. In fact, you should think about the word “pain” as an acronym for PAY ATTENTION INSIDE NOW.
Doctors make the distinction between “acute pain” and “chronic pain.” Acute pain is a normal short-term sensation that is experienced when a part of the body is injured. Chronic pain is different by definition; chronic pain persists for a long period of time (more than three to six months) and may recur without any identifiable reason. Many adults suffer from chronic pain and classify it merely as a result of aging.
The most common types of chronic pain are arthritis type pain of the joints, neck and back pain and headaches – many of which are preventable and or can be managed with proper lifestyle modifications and improved lifestyle habits.
If you’re a person with chronic pain, every moment of your life is affected by it. What most people don’t realize is that 80 percent of chronic pain sufferers are between the ages of 24-64 and that back pain, migraines and arthritis cost American families (of four) $1643 per year.
Obesity
Obesity is a chronic condition of carrying excessive body fat that frequently results in a significant impairment of health.
Obesity in the United States has become the greatest health crisis of our time, affecting more Americans than any other condition, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Obesity rates have increased by more than 60 percent among adults in the past ten years, affecting 60 million American adults, and will soon overtake smoking as the number one preventable cause of death and disease.
Since 1980, obesity rates have doubled among children and tripled among adolescents. The World Health Organization projects that by 2025, 45-50 percent of all U. S. adults and 30 percent of all U. S. children will suffer from obesity.
In addition to the potential of affecting your self-image, obesity can dramatically affect your health, increasing the risk of hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, gallbladder disease, cancer and overall quality of life.
In most cases, obesity is a lifestyle disease, primarily due to lack of activity and poor eating habits. While it is true that some people have a genetic predisposition to weight gain; this is a very small percentage. For most of us, being overweight is simply a sign that we are not living optimally, in accordance with physiological design: We need to turn our attention to what we eat and how much movement we create in our lives.
Once again, obesity not only has a tremendous cost affecting our quality of life, it is also expensive. Those who are obese suffer 30-50 percent more health problems than smokers or problem drinkers. Obesity costs every man, woman and child approximately $175 per year over and above the costs of the preventable diseases related to obesity.
What would happen if we were able to reduce our risk of preventable diseases and be able to save thousands of dollars every year that would otherwise go toward treating illnesses we could have prevented? What would our community be like if we had more people less sick? How much healthier and happier would you and your family be if you had more energy, greater vitality and saved more money by staying well?
I have written this commentary as one of hope, because it is time for health care professionals to work together to put both the “health” and the “care” back into health care. Hundreds of my colleagues and I are taking a stand to do the right thing, to share our knowledge and passion to help people live a greater quality of life. What I want you to know is that if you choose to Discover Wellness, the ultimate solution to America’s health care crisis, you will discover that staying healthy CAN make you rich.