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Multiple chronic diseases becoming more common in seniors

August 3, 2012

Findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Health Interview Survey revealed some startling statistics. Researchers found the number of seniors living with two or more chronic conditions has risen considerably over the last 10 years.

Middle-aged adults saw a rise in multiple chronic conditions, but seniors fared the worst. The statistics show that between 2009 and 2010, 45 percent of adults over 65 had at least two chronic diseases, which was up considerably from between 1999 and 2000, when the figure stood at about 37 percent.

The study was focused primarily on assessing the prevalence of nine different conditions, including high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes and kidney disease. The team found the combination of diabetes and high blood pressure saw the biggest growth, with the number of seniors with both rose from 9 percent to 15 percent.

"Growth in the prevalence of multiple chronic conditions was driven primarily by increases in three of the nine individual conditions," the report states. "During this 10-year period, prevalence of hypertension increased from 35 percent to 41 percent, diabetes from 10 percent to 15 percent, and cancer from 9 percent to 11 percent, among those aged 45 and over."

Of course, older adults are not at the mercy of these findings. There are many lifestyle changes seniors can make to enjoy the benefits of healthy aging. The best way to avoid high blood pressure is for seniors to maintain a healthy weight, the National Institutes of Health Advises.

Keeping one's weight at a manageable level can be done in a number of ways, from following a diet that contains high amounts of vegetables, fat-free milk and fish to getting around two hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week.