Managing Multiple Chronic Diseases


The prevention of chronic disease is now a priority to everyone, but after being diagnosed with one, individuals should not give up on their effort because there are new consequences: comorbidities. A comorbidity is the diagnosis of a second health condition while already being physically or mentally impacted by one. They tend to happen when chronic disease is not being managed properly – eventually affecting the patient to the point where they require complex medical care instead of being able to manage their condition independently or with some assistance in the comfort of their home.


Common Dyads & Triads

As the people age and medical technology advances to help them live longer, chronic diseases affect even more of the older population. Research has even identified some of these diseases to commonly occur together. Below are some of the most common dyadic (2 conditions) and triadic (3 conditions) diagnoses.

1. High blood pressure can occur with one or two of the following:

  • Heart disease
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes

2. High cholesterol can occur with one or two of the following:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Ischemic heart disease

3. Mental health conditions can occur with one or more of the following:

  • Eating disorders (including obesity, body dysmorphia)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Sleep disorders
  • Substance use disorders
  • Adult ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactive disorder)
  • Chronic pain
  • Fibromyalgia

Research has supported the prevention of comorbidities with proper management of existing health conditions. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle, regularly accessing health services, and encouraging communication within the patient’s circle of care in order to benefit from a coordinated response to their unique health needs.


Circle of Care

All users of the Canadian health care system have a diverse care team that double as guardians of their health information. This may include a family doctor, a specialist, a pharmacist, a nurse, a social worker, a physiotherapist, and many other health professionals depending on the severity of the patient’s condition. It is common that different health professionals will have the same patient and design the treatment plan for their illness or comorbidities without consulting with one another. A patient may be able to increase teamwork and clarity by informing all members of their circle of care of their interactions with others and ongoing treatments. Starting with the pharmacist is advisable as they can go over the list of medications that a patient has been prescribed by different providers and scan through it for treatments that interact with each other and potentially trigger comorbidities and worsening disease status.


Mobile Health Applications for Chronic Disease Self-Management

Below is a list of highly rated mobile health applications that have been judged as helpful in managing various chronic diseases not only by past/current users, but healthcare professionals too. They are available for free download on iOS (Apple) and Android (Samsung, Pixel, LG, etc.) devices.

  • Curable – “provides guidance, education, and tools to re-program your nerve pathways and reduce your pain”
  • Glucose Buddy – “connects to your glucometer or allows you to log your numbers manually while also tracking steps, exercise, and meals”
  • MyVectra – “track your rheumatoid arthritis, create visual snapshots of your data, and communicate about your RA like never before”
  • Heart Care – “easy-to-use tools that will help you to monitor your health, and keep track of all your physical activities and vital signs measurements”
  • Flaredown – “remembers your details so that you can track conditions, symptoms, and treatments, compare your data to test out your treatments and find triggers, and talk with other users and learn from their experience”
  • Medisafe – “intended for patients who are on multiple medications for chronic diseases and who have a hard time complying with their prescription medications”
  • Calm – “promises to help users sleep better, boost confidence and reduce stress and anxiety, all with the help of guided meditations, soothing music, and bedtime stories”
  • SleepCycle – “learn about your sleep patterns with detailed analysis and understand how stress and anxiety may be affecting your ability to get a good night’s sleep”
  • Sanvello – “created by psychologists, uses clinically validated techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy to ease mental health conditions like anxiety and depression”
  • SuperBetter – “builds resilience: the ability to stay strong, motivated and optimistic even in the face of change and difficult challenges”