Friday, March 09, 2007
How do you "chase life?"
Ask almost anyone how he or she would like to live their golden years, and they'll tell you they want to be independent and active. Yet a new report finds more than four in five older Americans living with at least one chronic disease and half living with at least two, potentially cutting into the enjoyment of people's final decades. That's because chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, arthritis, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke can cause pain, diminished function and loss of independence.

The report, released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Merck Company Foundation, suggests these figures might get worse in coming years. (Click here for a copy of the report) That's because how you live affects not only longevity, but how healthy you're likely to be in your retirement years.

The most recent statistics available on Americans 55-64 shows they are not as a group living particularly healthy lives. For example, 42 percent reported having high blood pressure; 57 percent weren't physically active; and 12 percent were diabetic. High blood pressure and lack of physical activity are also among the conditions that increase the risk of mental decline.

No one would choose pain, diminished function and a loss of independence in his or her retirement years, but that's potentially the result of decisions people make every day. Do you smoke? Do you exercise? Is your diet healthy?

In an upcoming Special Investigations Unit program, "Chasing Life" (airs 8 p.m. ET April 14-15 on CNN), Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta looks at ways to live the longest, healthiest life possible. The leading killers - heart disease, cancer and stroke - are often preventable with healthy lifestyle choices. In the course of our research, one of the scientists interviewed said the goal should be to live like a light bulb, burning brightly until the day we go out.

It's a nice image.

Tell us about any lifestyle changes you've made to "chase life."
The most major lifestyle change I have ever made was gaining weight. Due to an eating disorder, I had kept myself dangerously underweight and did not have a period. I made the choice to chase life by doing the scariest thing of all to me--eating--and restoring my body back. I then chose to chase a quality life by dealing with the emotional issues, dysfunctional thought patterns, etc. through therapy. Every day is still a struggle for me as I am dramatically uncomfortable in my skin and constantly have to fight thoughts telling me life would be better if I was thinner, but I believe I am meant for more unhealthy bones, lethargy and early death.
I am a disabled veteran with 3 herniated disks, COPD, CHF, failed triple bypass, one of the grafts is only blood flow I have, I have hypertension and PTSD rated at 100% just for the PTSD by the VA and they ignore the other issue's. They issued me a power chair in Sep 2003 and refuse to approve the automobile grant for a truck so I can use the chair, I am stuck at home, I only leave for VA Doctor appointments and then use a walker as I can't move the chair, is it just me or is something wrong with this picture?
By learning Intrinsic Coaching´┐Ż so I could be a health coach, I ended up being able to live a healthier life in ways I didn't expect. In almost all the conversations we have about health, the intrinsic dimension is missing and, without it, all we do is cover the same old information over and over. Dr. Gupta, please explore this and then tell the public. It's the missing ingredient for a healthy life and there's a way to get it. It made an enormous difference for me. Thank you.
I recently read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and was so impressed by the depth of scientific evidence presented in that book, that I gave up animal products (meat, fish, milk, cheese, eggs, etc.) for Lent. I try to eat according to macrobiotic principles, so I already was not eating most of the above. I have to say, I believe that the science supports such a huge life-change. Thanks for your great reporting, Dr. Gupta. Perhaps you could interview T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Neal Barnard. They, too have followed the evidence and have the studies to back up what they say and the message is not reaching many. Thanks!
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends -- info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
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