Death Rates Rise: How You Can Beat the Odds
Nobody likes bad news. And we got some surprisingly bad news recently as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released preliminary federal data that indicates death rates are actually on the rise for the first time in more than a decade.
A Cause for Concern, Not Alarm
Though this data suggests a trend in the wrong direction—at least for last year—there are several reasons for the change.
The statistics seem to show that drug overdoses and suicides are on the rise. Last year also didn’t have the improvement in heart-related deaths that we’ve seen over the previous years.
Though an increase in our country’s overall death rate for one year is concerning, the trend over a longer period of time is still improving overall.
But this serves as a reminder how we can each make choices that improve our personal well-being and give us the greatest chance of living a long and healthy life.
Prioritizing Your Mental Health
One place to start changing your odds is take good care of your mental health. Far more attention is typically put on physical health, while we tend to forget how important the mind and spirit really are. A positive mental outlook even has a direct impact on our heart health.
Substance addiction and suicidal thoughts and behaviors are treatable and preventable—and, in many cases, even reversible. Their outcomes may not be. “Suicide and fatal overdose are permanent, irreversible ‘solutions’ to temporary problems,” says explains Stephanie Gallian, an IHC Associates counselor practicing at Adventist Health Medical Group’s Gresham Station clinic. “Share your feelings with family, friends and caregivers. Ask for help!”
Gallian recommends opening up to your health care providers. “Any doctor, clinic or hospital staff you encounter can help you find access to professional substance and mental health treatment,” she says.
Biometrics are basic numbers about your body that reveal your risk of developing heart disease or suffering heart-related death. Your health care provider may have tested you in several of these areas during your last physical. These numbers include:
- Blood pressure
- Weight, height and waist size
- Cholesterol levels, both good (HDL) and bad (LDL)
- Blood sugar
You can move those numbers into a healthier range by making some basic changes to your lifestyle.
And “lifestyle” is the key—changing your daily habits and taking joy in how much better you feel. “What lasts is when you have pleasure,” says Anabel Facemire, MD, FACC, a cardiologist with Northwest Regional Heart & Vascular. “This isn’t about suffering—this is about the rest of your life. It’s having the right approach.”
- Eating a heart-healthy diet
- Drinking enough water
- Sleeping enough
- Staying physically active
- Keeping your weight in a healthy range
- Eliminating tobacco use and exposure
Be a Success Story
Even if death rates continue to rise in this country, you don’t have to be part of those statistics. Consult with your doctor or other health care providers to make a plan for how you can write your own health story.
You really can beat the odds. “Become a success story, not a statistic,” advises Gallian.
If you need a primary care provider to help you start your journey to greater health, give Adventist Health Medical Group a call at (503) 261-6929 or request an appointment online.
To make an appointment with an IHC Associates therapist, call 503-740-1971.
Author: LivingWell PDX Blog
Adventist Health is committed to creating a healthier Portland community.