Chronic diseases have become a major health concern in Canada, with “The Big Four” being responsible for a significant number of preventable deaths and disabilities. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at each of these diseases and the steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing them. However, it’s also important to prepare for the worst, and that includes taking steps to ensure your family’s financial security no matter what happens.

What Are “The Big Four” Chronic Diseases?

In this context, “The Big Four” refers to the 4 most common causes of preventable death and disability in Canada. They are a group of diseases that are the most prevalent and problematic in our country.

1. Cancer

Cancer is a group of diseases characterized by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. It is a leading cause of death in Canada, accounting for approximately 30% of all deaths.

2. Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease refers to conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels, including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. It is the second leading cause of death in Canada, accounting for approximately 20% of all deaths.

3. Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body cannot produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. It is a growing health concern in Canada, with over 5 million Canadians living with diabetes.

4. Chronic Respiratory Disease/Lung Disease

Chronic respiratory diseases include conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and lung cancer. These conditions affect the lungs and airways and can lead to significant disability and reduced quality of life. After cardiovascular disease and cancer, respiratory disease is the third leading cause of hospitalization and death in Canada.

Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Developing Chronic Disease

You can reduce your risk of developing these four chronic diseases by engaging in healthy lifestyle habits. 

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for all four chronic diseases. Make an effort to maintain a healthy weight to reduce your chances of developing a chronic disease.

Eat Well

Eating a balanced diet goes hand-in-hand with maintaining a healthy weight. Limit sugars and processed foods and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Don’t forget healthy fats and whole grains!

Quit Smoking/Don’t Smoke

If you smoke, quit. It is difficult but there are support groups and programs that can help you. If you don’t smoke, don’t start! Smoking greatly increases your risk of developing diseases like lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory diseases.

Manage Stress 

Not surprisingly, chronic stress can lead to chronic disease. Take measures to reduce your overall stress and learn ways to cope with it so it doesn’t make you sick.  

Limit Alcohol Consumption

Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and liver disease. Limit your alcohol consumption so lower your risk. Ideally, women should drink no more than one alcoholic beverage per day while men should not have more than two.

Stay Active 

Staying active and exercising is part of a healthy lifestyle. Even if you just do some light exercise daily, it can go a long way in preventing chronic disease. Try to get up and move your body every day. Here are Canada’s recommendations on physical activity.

Get Regular Checkups

Finally, don’t skip the annual checkup! Regular checkups with your doctor can help detect chronic disease, as well as allow for early treatment. This can help prevent diseases from becoming more serious. 

Expect the Best, Prepare for the Worst

It’s clear from the statistics that The Big Four are cause for serious concern. With this information in mind, it’s important to make every effort to reduce your risk of chronic disease. Fortunately, by living a healthy and balanced life, you can significantly lower your chances. 

However, as people age, they become more susceptible to illness and disease. While you can live a very healthy life and expect the best, it’s always wise to prepare for the worst. It could make a world of difference for your family should something happen to you. Live a healthy life, but don’t stop there. 

Guarantee your family’s future and their financial security by planning for the worst.

Get critical illness insurance.