A chronic disease is an illness that is long lasting or recurrent. Examples of common chronic diseases are cancer, diabetes, depression, cardiovascular illnesses, arthritis and asthma. The prevalence of these illnesses are increasing worldwide due to a predominance of riskier lifestyles and a higher life expectancy.
Chronic diseases require constant medical attention and treatment. Medical practice is favoring the type of management that engages patients in the understanding and treatment of their health conditions. In this context, collaborative work between healthcare systems and patients allow a better handling of chronic diseases. Since nurses are members of the healthcare system who are closest to patients, they play an extremely important part in the attention and management. With their understanding and care, they provide a better evaluation, treatment, education and counseling for patients.
The contribution of nurses can reach different levels, for instance, they can treat patients even when ailments are very severe. They can also provide help at an emotional level, such as when the patient has been diagnosed with a terminal illness.
They support patients and their families with the attention and controlling of the disease by providing a better use of prescribed medications and in guiding patients through their ordeal. These factors empower the patient and increases the possibilities of treatment success.
Are there challenges? Yes! Educating the patient about their health issues is a challenge for everyone involved, especially if they have more than one chronic disease. For instance, they can suffer from diabetes while also having high blood pressure. Each condition may involve different concerns. Nurse counseling is a major contribution, but patients need to understand and implement the suggestions and recommendations given by the nurse, particularly in the area of health prevention.