Living Well with Chronic Disease

Together we can work to prevent, control, and manage chronic diseases across our state through healthy choices, classes, and community involvement.

What are chronic diseases?

A chronic disease is any condition not passed from person to person and that persists for long periods of time. Examples of chronic diseases are hypertension, stroke, arthritis, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and asthma. 

Why do chronic diseases matter?

Chronic diseases are an urgent problem for Americans in many ways. Chronic diseases and illnesses can cause financial stress, disability, and even death. According to the CDC, “Chronic diseases and conditions—such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and arthritis—are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems.”

  • About ½ of all adults have at least one chronic health condition
  • Two chronic diseases (heart disease and cancer) cause nearly half of all deaths in the U.S.
  • Arthritis is the most common cause of disability
  • Diabetes is the top cause of new cases of blindness
  • Nationwide, the healthcare cost for chronic diseases is hundreds of billions of dollars per year
  • Dealing with chronic illnesses can be difficult and overwhelming

What can we do to prevent chronic diseases?

Fortunately, we know what to do to prevent many chronic diseases in Tennessee.  Many chronic diseases can be prevented through healthy habits and choices. Some healthy choices that prevent chronic diseases include:

  • Not smoking
  • Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables
  • Limiting alcohol intake to a moderate amount or none at all
  • Walking more often
  • Adhering to the recommended health guidelines for tests such as mammographies, colonoscopies, and prostate exams 

What can be done if a person has a chronic disease?

We can work together at the state and local levels to improve the lives of individuals who have one or more chronic conditions. We can do this at a variety of levels:​

  • Individual: Choose to eat low-sodium foods or participate in a Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP) class
  • Family/Relational: Take a walk after dinner or cook healthy meals together as a family; be supportive and accommodating of loved ones who must check their blood sugar
  • Community: Ask your local hospital to host a CDSMP course; promote your local farmers market
  • Cultural: Create a culture of healthy living where we work together as a state to prevent, control, and manage chronic diseases

Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP)

Chronic Disease Self-Management Program courses were developed at Stanford University and are currently offered statewide. These evidence-based classes are geared toward individuals diagnosed with one or more chronic illnesses. Subjects covered include:

  • Techniques to deal with problems such as frustration, fatigue, pain, and isolation
  • Appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength, flexibility, and endurance
  • Appropriate use of medications
  • Communicating effectively with family, friends, and health professionals
  • Nutrition
  • Decision making
  • How to evaluate new treatments