Many people are unaware that chronic health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol or hypertension can cause damage to the body, often without the person experiencing noticeable symptoms.
Although they can occur individually, these three conditions are often interlinked and can significantly increase the chances of stroke, heart attack and premature death. Joy Steenkamp, a pharmacist at Medipost Pharmacy, said: “At
the beginning of a new year, many of us think about improving our health through taking up a fitness regimen or eating more healthily.
A crucial but often overlooked aspect of taking care of our wellbeing is having routine health screenings.”
“Even if you feel healthy and well, be aware that you could be living with one or more of these underlying conditions.
“With noncommunicable diseases on the rise in South Africa, it really is advisable for adults to screen for these common health threats each year so that any risks can be detected and managed early to ward off more serious complications from developing.”
Diabetes is a chronic long-term condition that affects how your body breaks down sugar from the food that you eat. While type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in childhood, type 2 diabetes develops over time and is more often
diagnosed in adulthood.
“Insulin is a hormone that helps control your body’s blood sugar levels. If your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or cells stop responding to insulin, too much sugar remains in your bloodstream and this can lead to serious health problems over
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time, including potentially irreversible damage to the eyes, kidneys and other organ systems. It is therefore critical to be aware of your blood sugar levels and get tested regularly to know if you are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes,” Steenkamp said.
“With the medicines available these days, along with regular exercise and a healthy diet as advised by your treating doctor, diabetes can be very well controlled with many new oral or injectable medicines to help keep blood sugar levels stable.”
“High cholesterol, or elevated levels of fat in the bloodstream, is another common noncommunicable disease that is all too common in SA. Although people with high cholesterol usually do not have any symptoms, if it remains undiagnosed and therefore untreated, it significantly increases the risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke,” Steenkamp added.
“A simple blood test reveals cholesterol levels and if these are outside of the healthy, range your treating doctor will prescribe the right kind of chronic medicine to help maintain cholesterol.