While the overall results of CDC studies and the US Health and Retirement Study are not surprising (increase in multiple chronic diseases which are harder to manage), the interesting point for me was the inability of people to change their lifestyle following health problems. Quote:
The biggest change came in smoking after a heart disease diagnosis; 40 percent of smokers quit at that point. Of course, that means that most smokers with heart disease didn’t. Fewer than 20 percent of smokers with lung disease gave up cigarettes. The decrease in excessive alcohol consumption was small. Rates of regular vigorous exercise (at least three times a week), though it’s recommended for those conditions, didn’t improve at all.
Over all, the study concluded, “the vast majority of individuals do not make major lifestyle changes following diagnosis of a serious chronic disease, either in the short term or in the long term.”
Yes, change in habits is very hard, but increased risk of death is harder. Some evidence in the studies that smoking cessation and other similar programs can help.
Another interesting part was the difference in the thoroughness of medical care by age: those covered by universal Medicare (over 65) received better and more comprehensive treatment than younger groups, where coverage was more mixed.