Risk-y Business

Risk-y Business

Risk is not a four letter word. Well, technically it is. But the point being “risk” does not have to be scary or taboo. Regardless of your age or how healthy you look or feel, we all have “risk factors” and they are as unique as our fingerprints. It’s what we do about our risk factors that matters most.

“Risk” is one way to measure how likely it is that you will experience a heart attack, cancer, stroke, diabetes or any number of things. But what are risk factors, you might wonder?

  • Demographics: Age, for instance, can put you at a higher risk for some diseases.
  • Behavior: Some habits can increase your risk. Are you a smoker? Smoking ups your risk for just about every nasty disease you’d ever want to avoid.

  • History: Your family history (genetics) sometimes plays a role in your risk for disease. Also, if you have a history of high blood pressure, for example, you are at a higher risk for stroke.

  • Body changes: Certain changes in our bodies make us more prone to disease. For example, during menopause when the chemicals in women’s bodies change, they are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis (weak bones).

The first step to managing risk is knowing your own risk factors—how your personal demographics, behavior, history and body changes can affect your health. Take a quick, free quiz to figure out your risk for:

Now it’s time to act!

  1. Talk with your doctor about your risk factors at your check-up every year (or even more often!) Don’t have a doc? Swedish can help you find one. Call 1-800-SWEDISH (1-800-793-3474) to speak with a referral coordinator. 

  2. Keep track of your risk factors on your own. For example, many grocery stores and local health clinics have free blood pressure kiosks so you don’t even have to make an appointment to get it checked! We even have kiosks at the Swedish/First Hill and Ballard campuses. Call the Community Health Education Department at (206) 386-2502 to request your own Health Score Card and keep all of your numbers together in one place! 

  3. Do what you can to reduce your risk. We may not be able to change our genetics (yet!) but exercising, eating a healthy balanced diet and quitting smoking are just a few ways to lower your risk for many different diseases. Depending on your own personal risk factors, take baby steps to reduce your risk over time.

  4. Help your friends, family and loved ones reduce their risk by openly talking about risk factors and how you can reduce them. Knowledge and social support can go a long way in helping reduce risk!

Each one of us has our own unique risk factor fingerprint. But knowing our risk factors and understanding how we can reduce them can go a long way in improving our health and our chances of avoiding disease. Don’t let risk be just another four letter word. Make it your business to know your risk and act on it!

Nice post, Kaetlin! It is really informative. Knowing our risk factors is a great help for us to be more aware of our health status. ^_^
7/5/2012 8:29:58 AM
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