As part of Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s ongoing efforts to increase the healthcare literacy of our patients, we will discuss the term “comorbidity,” which may be used by the healthcare team when treating patients with chronic conditions.
Comorbidity is the existence of two or more medical conditions in the same person. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, four out of ten people in the United States suffer from chronic comorbidities.
Comorbid conditions are often serious chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, lung disease, Alzheimer’s, chronic kidney disease, and stroke, which account for a substantial number of deaths and disabilities each year.
Certain conditions may be more likely to develop among people with other chronic illnesses. Arthritis, for example, affects nearly half of all people diagnosed with diabetes or heart disease, as well as over a quarter of all obese people.
The term “comorbidity” doesn’t just apply to chronic physical disease. Psychiatric comorbidities are also common, with depression often occurring in conjunction with substance abuse and anxiety disorders, though it can also occur alongside serious or chronic physical conditions such as cancer, heart disease, or stroke.
Comorbidities may not necessarily be life-threatening in all cases, but they can often be debilitating. Comorbid conditions may make the symptoms of a primary condition more difficult to manage and substantially increase medical care costs.
The best way to prevent comorbidities is to take steps to prevent primary chronic conditions or manage any risk factors of one you already have that may overlap with other conditions. Lifestyle changes such as limiting alcohol and tobacco intake, improving your nutrition, and incorporating regular physical exercise into your schedule may help. If you already suffer from one or more medical conditions, you’ll also need to work with your doctor to determine how treatment for one condition may affect another.
Flushing Hospital offers advanced care for a wide range of physical and psychiatric conditions. To schedule an appointment with a doctor, please call our Ambulatory Care Center at (718) 670-5486.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.