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What are Long Term Conditions (LTCs)?

 

LTCs are problems that patients can have for their whole life, or a significant period of time. Some of these problems can be split into categories:

  • Simple - including: Asthma, High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
  • More Serious - including: Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), Diabetes, Stroke/Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA)

 

For more information about LTCs, please see the information below.

Long Term Conditions

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Asthma

Asthma is a common long-term condition that can cause coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and breathlessness. The severity of these symptoms varies from person to person. Asthma can be controlled well in most people most of the time, although some people may have more persistent problems.

Symptoms of Asthma

The main symptoms of Asthma are:

  • Wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe)
  • Shortness of Breath (SOB)
  • A tight chest - which may feel like a band tightening around it
  • Coughing

Treatment of Asthma


If you have asthma you should be able to lead a full and unrestricted life. For most people, the treatments are effective and they should enable you to keep the condition under control.

Living with Asthma

Your asthma may get better or worse at different times. There may be periods when you have asthma symptoms, but in between you may be generally well, possibly for many years.

For more information, please visit the links below.

External Links

Asthma UK
British Lung Foundation - Asthma
NHS Choices - Living with Asthma

Cancer

Cancer is a condition where cells in a specific part of the body grow and reproduce uncontrollably. The cancerous cells can invade and destroy surrounding healthy tissue, including organs.

Cancer sometimes begins in one part of the body before spreading to other areas. This process is known as metastasis. There are over 200 different types of cancer, each with its own methods of diagnosis and treatment.

Signs and Symptoms of Cancer

It's important to be aware of any unexplained changes to your body, such as the sudden appearance of a lump, blood in your urine or a change to your usual bowel habits.

These symptoms are often caused by other, non-cancerous illnesses, but it's important to see your GP so they can investigate.

Other potential signs and symptoms of cancer can be found on the NHS Choices website by clicking here.

External Links

Cancer Research UK
Macmillan Cancer Support
NHS Choices - Cancer

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the name for a collection of lung diseases including chronic bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive airways disease.

People with COPD have difficulties breathing, primarily due to the narrowing of their airways, this is called airflow obstruction.

Typical symptoms of COPD include:

  • Increasing breathlessness when exercising or moving around
  • A persistent cough with phlegm that never seems to go away
  • Frequent chest infections, particularly in winter
  • Wheezing

Treatment

There is no cure for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but treatment can help slow the progression of the condition and reduce the symptoms.

If you smoke, the best way to prevent COPD from getting quickly worse is to stop smoking and avoid further damage to your lungs.

External Links

British Lung Foundation - COPD
NHS Choices - COPD

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

CHD is the leading cause of death both in the UK and worldwide.

It's responsible for more than 73,000 deaths in the UK each year. About 1 in 6 men and 1 in 10 women die from CHD.

In the UK, there are an estimated 2.3 million people living with CHD and around 2 million people affected by angina (the most common symptom of coronary heart disease). CHD generally affects more men than women, although from the age of 50 the chances of developing the condition are similar for both sexes.

Treatment

Although coronary heart disease (CHD) cannot be cured, treatment can help manage the symptoms and reduce the risk of further problems.

CHD can be managed effectively with a combination of lifestyle changes, medicine and, in some cases, surgery. With the right treatment, the symptoms of CHD can be reduced and the functioning of the heart improved.

External Links

British Cardiovascular Society
British Heart Foundation
NHS Choices - Coronary Heart Disease

Diabetes

Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person's blood sugar level to become too high.

There are two main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes – where the body's immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin
  • Type 2 diabetes – where the body doesn't produce enough insulin, or the body's cells don't react to insulin

Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1. In the UK, around 90% of all adults with diabetes have type 2.

When to see a doctor

Visit your GP as soon as possible if you experience the main symptoms of diabetes, which include:
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Urinating more frequently than usual, particularly at night
  • Feeling very tired
  • Weight loss and loss of muscle bulk
  • Itching around the penis or vagina, or frequent episodes of thrush
  • Cuts or wounds that heal slowly
  • Blurred vision

External Links

Diabetes UK
NHS Choices - Type 1 Diabetes
NHS Choices - Type 2 Diabetes

Living with Chronic Pain

Whether your pain has just come on or you’ve lived with it for years, these tried-and-tested self-help steps can bring you relief.

  • Get some gentle exercise - simple, everyday activity like walking, swimming, gardening and dancing can ease some of the pain directly by blocking pain signals to the brain.
  • Breathe right to ease pain - Concentrating on your breathing when you’re in pain can help.
  • Read books and leaflets on pain - The Pain Toolkit is a free NHS-endorsed booklet packed with simple practical advice on how to live better with long-term pain, to view the document, click here.
  • Counselling can help with pain - pain can make you tired, anxious, depressed and grumpy. This can make the pain even worse, making you fall into a downward spiral. Be kinder to yourself. Living with pain isn’t easy and you can be your own worst enemy by being stubborn, not pacing your activities every day and not accepting your limitations.
  • Distract yourself - shift your attention onto something else so the pain isn’t the only thing on your mind. Get stuck into an activity that you enjoy or find stimulating. Many hobbies, like photography, sewing or knitting, are possible even when your mobility is restricted.
  • Share your story about pain - it can help to talk to someone else who has experienced similar pain themselves and understands what you’re going through.
  • The sleep cure for pain - "Many people with chronic pain dread going to bed as that's when the pain is worst," says Heather Wallace from Pain Concern. But it’s important to try to stick to a normal sleep routine so you've got the best chance of sleeping through the night.
  • Take a course - self management courses are free NHS-based training programmes for people who live with long-term chronic conditions such as arthritis and diabetes to develop new skills to manage their condition (and any related pain) better on a day-to-day basis.
  • Keep in touch with friends and family - don’t let pain mean that you lose contact with people.
  • Relax to beat pain - practising relaxation techniques regularly can help to reduce persistent pain.

External Links

Action on Pain
British Pain Society
NHS Choices - Living with Chronic Pain

Mental Health

Mental health is about how we think, feel and behave. One in four people in the UK have a mental health problem at some point in their lives, which affects their daily life, relationships or physical health.

Mental health disorders take many different forms and affect people in different ways. Schizophrenia, depression and personality disorders are all examples of mental health problems. Diseases such as Alzheimer's and dementia generally develop in old age, whereas eating disorders are more common in young people.

External Links

Alzheimer's Society
HealthTalkOnline - Mental Health
Mental Health Foundation
NHS Choices - Mental Health

Stroke / Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA)

A stroke is a serious, life-threatening medical condition that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off.

Strokes are a medical emergency and urgent treatment is essential because the sooner a person receives treatment for a stroke, the less damage is likely to happen.

If you suspect that you or someone else is having a stroke, phone 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance.

Signs and Symptoms

The main symptoms of stroke can be remembered with the word FAST:

  • Face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile or their mouth or eye may have dropped.
  • Arms – the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of arm weakness or numbness in one arm.
  • Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake.
  • Time – it is time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms.


External Links

NHS Choices - Stroke
Stroke: Act F.A.S.T
The Stroke Association