Risk Factors for Health

Risk Factors for Health

Understand the risk factors for health

Health care involves understanding the risk factors for the occurrence of different diseases. Health risk factors are events in your life that increase your likelihood of getting a particular illness. Some risk factors cannot be controlled – you may have been born to them or exposed to them without your fault.

Among the risk factors for health that you can not control or control very little include:

  • the presence of a family history for a certain disease
  • sex
  • age

Risk factors that you can control include:

  • food
  • physical activity
  • smoking
  • alcohol consumption
  • use of illegal drugs
  • wear the seat belt

Based on the studies it was estimated that many deaths could be avoided by changing only three behaviors, related to:

  • smoking – quitting smoking
  • diet – adopting a healthy diet (eg eat more fruits and vegetables and less red meat)
  • physical activity – elimination of sedentarism

Having more than one risk factor for health

You can have only one risk factor for a disease or you can have multiple risk factors. The more risk factors you have for health, the more likely you are to get sick.

The risk factors for developing an illness can be compared to the chances of getting injured in an accident while driving. If you are a healthy person and have no risk factors for, say, heart disease, it is as if you have a seat belt, you have speed in legal limits and respect the traffic rules.

In this case, the chances of having an accident are small. But let’s say you have a risk factor for heart disease: diabetes. Now it is as if you are traveling without your seat belt. The chances of getting injured in the event of an accident are now higher. If you also have another risk factor, such as high blood pressure, it’s like you’re driving at a very high speed. If you smoke, the risk is now comparable to running without having the seat belt set, with very high speed and without respecting the traffic rules.

To reduce the risks, all you have to do is use the belt, drive with caution, follow the rules ie reduce the risk factors – in case of health status it would be to quit smoking and to control the blood pressure through healthy eating, physical activity and medicines prescribed by the doctor.

Risk factors for health, inheritance – family history

You can inherit a mutant gene that causes a disease. For example, a defective gene can cause blood to fail. This genetic problem causes a rare coagulation disorder called hemophilia.

More often, you can inherit genes from one or both parents, which increase the likelihood of certain diseases occurring.

But having a gene for a particular disease does not necessarily mean that you will have the disease. There are several unknown factors that can increase or decrease the likelihood of the disease occurring. You cannot change your genes but you can change behaviors that affect your health, such as smoking, inactivity and unhealthy eating habits. People with a family history of chronic health problems may have the most to gain by changing their lifestyle. In many cases, these changes can reduce the likelihood of an illness, even if the disease exists in your family.

Another change you can make is adopting preventive behavior – performing periodic exams and tests (screening tests) such as mammography or colorectal cancer test. Screening tests help detect the disease in its early stages when the probability of healing is much higher. They are most useful to people who have chronic illnesses in their family history, identifying risk factors or early signs of the disease. The sooner a disease  discovered, before the onset of symptoms, the easier and safer it is to treat.

How can you find out what the risks of the disease are?

It is important to discuss with your doctor about the individual risks. It is important that your doctor knows not only about your health but also your family history – your family health history. When you go to the doctor be prepared to provide information about yourself and, if you have, about your children, brothers, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, regarding:

  • serious illnesses and causes of death
  • age of onset of disease and age of death
  • ethnicity information
  • general information about lifestyle such as excessive alcohol consumption and smoking

Your doctor will evaluate the risk of the disease according to your family history and other risk factors. He may also recommend measures you can take to help prevent disease, such as eliminating sedentary lifestyle, changing diet, or performing screening tests to detect early disease.

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1 Response

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