Published in the scientific journal BMC Public Health, the FMUP study revealed that the risk of multimorbidity (having two or more health problems) in a person increases by 4% per year.
Among the most frequent health problems are cases of osteoarticular pain, hypertension, diabetes, heart problems, asthma and cancer, underlines the study.
The authors of the study - Rosália Easter, Andreia Teixeira, Hugo Monteiro, Filipe Prazeres and Carlos Martins - considered multimorbidity "excessive" in Portugal and pointed out the need to optimize the prevention of non-communicable diseases to improve the population's health.
To obtain these data, researchers evaluated 891 people over 20 years old and found that practically half of them had two or more associated health problems.
The results revealed that 21.1% of respondents had two health problems, 12.1% three, 7.7% four and 8% five or more.
“This is a recognized fundamental public health problem, since we are talking about situations with increased health needs, which ends up translating into an increase in the workload at the level of health services”, said Rosália Easter, professor at FMUP and researcher at the Research Center for Health Technologies and Services (CINTESIS).
In this work, in which researchers analyzed the prevalence of multimorbidity in Portugal and its association with lifestyles and sociodemographic factors, it was concluded that excessive screen time and poor sleep quality are associated with a risk increased risk of suffering from two or more illnesses, as well as high levels of stress.
Regarding smoking habits, participants who stopped smoking more than a year ago had a 91% increase in the risk of multimorbidity compared to those who never smoked.
According to the authors, a possible interpretation “may be related to the fact that the majority of smokers quit smoking only after being diagnosed with a health problem”.
Therefore, the researchers stressed that the path towards a healthy life will go through good habits such as not smoking, good quality of sleep, moderate exposure to screens and adequate management of stress levels, factors with the greatest impact on multimorbidity.