How Bad Can It Get?

When it comes to health, many people take on the “I’m sure that could never happen to me" mantra. This phrase enables people to go through life without realizing how high their risk potentially is for having a serious health issue or condition -- even if they are seemingly healthy. For individuals who have known risk factors, there is always the assumption that “I know plenty of people like me and they’re fine.” Do you have the proper healthcare protection in place?

Assuming that nothing can really go wrong is assuming the best. When it comes to one’s health, assuming the best means failing to prepare for what could potentially be earth-shattering news, leaving one hopeless and seemingly out of options.

The Risks We Face

While medicine has come a long way in it's ability to identify conditions earlier and earlier, there is no way to soften the blow of a catastrophic diagnosis. Here are some of the risks Americans facing today.

Consider chronic disease -- 6 in 10 adults in the United States will manage a chronic condition for a certain or extended period of time while 4 out of 10 will suffer from two or more. Diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer are among the most common chronic disease in the U.S. All of which are devastating and lifelong battles.

The U.S. Census Bureau has identified that 1 in 5 Americans are living with a disability. Many of these disabilities were acquired throughout life, ranging from conditions such as cancer to mental health conditions that if not properly managed, can become debilitating.

Aside from the common chronic illnesses, you should know that up to 1 in 6 Americans will be diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder at one point in their life -- ranging from Addison’s disease to Myositis, per the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association.

In 2018, the National Cancer Institute estimated that approximately two million Americans would be diagnosed with some form of cancer, with more than a third likely to ultimately result in fatality. It is estimated that as high as 38.4% of people will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime, with a 1.25 times higher rate of mortality in men diagnosed than in women.

The American Alzheimer’s Association estimated that 1 in 10 individuals over the age of 65 are living with Alzheimer’s disease, two thirds of which are female. While this population makes up the majority of patients, over 200,000 of America's youth have been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, with this number on a steady, upward trend.

According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, 1.7 million Americans suffer from a traumatic brain injury, worse than a mild traumatic brain injury (known commonly as a concussion) each year. Another 5.3 million Americans are living with disabilities as a result of traumatic brain injuries that they incurred.

Johns Hopkins Medicine has reported over 30,000 Americans currently living with Amytropic Lateral Sclerosis with approximately 5,000 new cases found each year. While the 40-70 year age range is the primary age group affected, many people younger than 20 years are also affected.

These are just some of the many diseases that are among the many health risks Americans face on a daily basis. When it comes to accidents, both in and out of the workplace, one’s life can take a sharp turn, which is why it's important to prepare for life's obstacles.

Every year, an average of 2.35 million Americans are seriously injured or disabled in motor vehicle accident (the Association for Safe International Road Travel). An additional 129,000 pedestrians are sent to the emergency room after being struck by a motor vehicle. Accidents happen every day.

While all members of the population are subject to these risks, despite their current state of health, there are many risk factors that can greatly increase the probability of developing a fatal condition.

The Center for Disease Control has identified that 40% of all cancer diagnoses are related to tobacco use. Additionally, those who use tobacco, have high blood pressure, or high cholesterol are at the highest risk for heart disease and other serious health conditions. It is estimated that 47% of Americans have at least one of these three disposing factors. The African American population is at an increased risk of suffering a heart attack at a younger age in men or women, according to the American Heart Association.

The Reality

While it is easy to go through the day with the belief that nothing can really go wrong with our health, many Americans are forced to realize the risks every day. Accidents happen. It's a result of human nature, with Mother Nature being more unpredictable, and that's life.

When it comes to understanding your risks, now is the time to acknowledge any factors you possess that could potentially lead to a dangerous diagnosis. Even if you do not possess these risk factors, it is important to understand the risk of developing a serious condition and how that could affect you and your loved ones.

Don’t leave yourself assuming the best without preparing for the worst. Protect yourself.