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Chronic disease prevention

20 October 2020 | News

Chronic diseases are long lasting conditions with persistent effects. Their social and economic consequences can impact on peoples’ quality of life. Chronic diseases are Australia’s greatest health challenge, and are the leading cause of illness, disability, and death.

The Australian Government – Department of Health is tackling chronic conditions at a national level, and has developed a range of initiatives and programs to support chronic disease prevention, management and treatment.

Chronic disease risk factors can be addressed in the workplace through health promotion aimed at improving individual health behaviours through education, promotions and programs.

What Exactly Are Chronic Diseases?

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare commonly reports on 8 common conditions:

  • arthritis
  • asthma
  • back pain
  • cancer
  • cardiovascular disease
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • diabetes
  • mental health conditions

As a result, these 8 common conditions have a big impact on Australians:

  • 1 in 2 Australians (50%) have at least 1
  • 3 in 5 Australians (60%) aged over 65 years have more than 1
  • around 9 in every 10 deaths are associated with them
Risk Factors

There are many things that affect your risk of developing a chronic condition.

Risk factors fall into 2 main groups:

  1. Ones you can change (e.g. smoking, drinking, being overweight, not being physically active)
  2. Ones you can’t change (e.g. age, gender, genes you’ve inherited)

In other words, having risk factors increases the chance of you getting a chronic condition. However, changing the risk factors you do have control over can help you prevent some chronic conditions.

For instance, the following risk factors commonly affect Australians:

  • smoking tobacco
  • not getting enough physical activity
  • drinking too much alcohol
  • poor diet
  • obesity
  • high blood pressure
  • poor cholesterol levels

In summary, reducing these risk factors in your own life can help keep you healthier for longer.

Chronic Disease PREVENTION

There are things you can do to reduce the risk of developing a preventable chronic disease. For example:

  • quit smoking
  • get enough physical activity
  • reduce your alcohol intake
  • eat well
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • maintain healthy blood pressure
  • have good cholesterol levels
Managing Chronic Disease

Meanwhile, if you have a chronic disease make sure you have a good general practitioner. One who you can talk to and who understands you and the way you live your life. In short, having one person who is central to your health care will make it much easier for you.

Ask your doctor for a chronic disease management plan. To clarify, this lists what you both need to do to manage your illness. It is agreed on between you and your doctor.

Try to work together with your team of healthcare providers, which might include specialists, and difference types of therapists. Moreover, make sure they work together – you can help by encouraging them to share information about your health.


Medications can help manage the pain associated with your chronic disease or can keep your condition under control. Make sure you understand the medicines you take. In addition, if you are taking them for long periods have your doctor review them each year to make sure they are still appropriate.

Further, if you are asked by an employer to undertake a pre-employment medical assessment or drug and alcohol screening, make sure you declare any medications on your medical history questionnaire.

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