Chronic illness

The prevalence of chronic conditions is increasing.

One in four Americans lives with at least one chronic condition.

75% of those older than 65 years are living with multiple chronic conditions, also known as multiple morbidity.

Chronic illness seldom occurs in isolation with 58% of adults having two or more chronic diseases.

Even among younger adults more than one and five have multiple chronic illnesses.

In  the United States, seven chronic diseases are the causes of the  10 most common deaths: heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and chronic lung, liver, and kidney diseases.

Age is the leading predictive factor for most chronic diseases.

Age is the major risk factor for the geriatric syndromes including: frailty and immmobility, decreased physical resilience, delayed or incomplete recovery from stress stressors such as surgery, hip fracture, and pneumonia.

There wide disparities in the prevalence of chronic diseases associated with members of marginalized populations of racial and ethnic differences, and  lower socioeconomic status.

Refers to a human health condition or disease that is persistent or otherwise long-lasting in its effects or a disease that comes with time.

Rural Americans have a higher prevalence of common chronic disease and higher rates of deaths from such diseases than the residents of metropolitan areas – this gap has widened over the past two decades.

Men have an average life expectancy six years shorter than that of women, and have a higher age adjusted rates of death from more common chronic diseases.

Chronic diseases are driven by risk factors that are largely preventable: almost half were attributed to preventable behaviors including tobacco, poor diet, physical inactivity and alcohol consumption.

The term chronic is often applied when the course of the disease lasts for more than three months.

It includes arthritis, asthma, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and some viral diseases such as hepatitis C and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases, and cardiovascular diseases.


92 diseases have been identified as age-related, accounting for 51.3% of the entire global burden among adults.

Chronic disease accounts for the majority of mobility, hospitalizations, health costs, and mortality worldwide.


According to the CDC, 41% of older adults in the United States are obese, and the National Council on Aging states that 80% of older adults have at least one chronic disease.


The economic burden of chronic diseases within the U.S. is approximately $170 billion per year, which accounts for 17% of total health care costs.


It can be distinguished from one that is acute.

A recurrent condition can relapse repeatedly, with periods of remission in between.

The non-communicable diseases are also usually lasting medical conditions but are distinguished by their non-infectious causes.

Some chronic diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, are caused by transmissible infections.

World Health Organization (WHO) attributes 38 million deaths a year to non-communicable diseases.

Patients with multiple chronic conditions or at particular risk for poor quality of care because of the requirement of multiple specialists increases fragmentation of care, increases the likelihood of medical errors, poor outcomes, and lower quality of life and higher cost.

Barriers to effective care for people with multiple chronic conditions include physical distance, financial costs, and shortage of physicians.

Patients with chronic illness or twice as likely to experience mental health comorbidities, such as depression.

Chronic conditions are used to describe the various health related states of the human body such as syndromes, physical impairments, disabilities as well as diseases.

Chronic conditions due to the fact they contribute to disease, disability, and diminished physical and/or mental capacity.

High blood pressure or hypertension are chronic conditions correlated to diseases such as heart attack or stroke.

Chronic conditions and diseases:


Cardiovascular diseases, including cerebrovascular disease, heart failure, and ischemic cardiopathy

Chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Diabetes mellitus


Alzheimer’s disease

Atrial fibrillation

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Autoimmune diseases, such as ulcerative colitis, lupus erythematosus, Crohn’s disease, coeliac disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and relapsing polychondritis

Bipolar disorder


Cerebral palsy

Chronic graft-versus-host disease

Chronic hepatitis

Chronic kidney disease

Chronic osteoarticular diseases, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis

Chronic pain syndromes, such as post-vasectomy pain syndrome and complex regional pain syndrome


Dermatological conditions such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis

Deafness and hearing impairment

Eating disorders

Ehlers–Danlos syndrome





Huntington’s disease


Lyme disease

Multiple sclerosis

Myalgic encephalomyelitis




Parkinson’s disease

Periodontal disease

Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome

Sickle cell anemia and other hemoglobin disorders

Sleep apnea

Thyroid disease

Tobacco Use and Related Conditions

Most of the common chronic diseases in the US are caused by dietary, lifestyle and metabolic risk factors that are also responsible for the resulting mortality.

Many chronic problems might be prevented by behavioral changes, such as quitting smoking, adopting a healthy diet, and increasing physical activity.

The social determinants are important risk factors for chronic diseases: socioeconomic status, education level, and race/ethnicity, are a major cause for the disparities observed in the care of chronic disease.

The majority of US health care and economic costs associated with medical conditions are for the costs of chronic diseases and conditions and associated health risk behaviors.

More than 80% of all health care spending is for the 50% of the population who have one or more chronic medical conditions.

Prevention is effective in reducing the effect of chronic conditions.

Early detection results in less severe outcomes.

The utilization of preventive services is typically lower than for regular medical services.

Public health programs are effective in reducing mortality rates associated to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.

In the United States, nearly one in two Americans has at least one chronic medical condition, with most subjects between the ages of 18 and 64.

In the United States, 90% of seniors have at least one chronic disease, and 77% have two or more chronic conditions.

The most common chronic conditions are high blood pressure, arthritis, respiratory diseases like emphysema, and high cholesterol.

Chronic diseases like stroke, heart disease, and cancer are among the leading causes of death among Americans aged 65 or older.

It is estimated that at least 80% of older Americans are currently living with some form of a chronic condition, with 50% of this population having two or more chronic conditions.

The two most common chronic conditions in the elderly are high blood pressure and arthritis, with diabetes, coronary heart disease, and cancer also common among the elder population.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death from chronic disease for adults older than 65: followed by cancer, stroke, diabetes, COPD diseases, influenza and pneumonia, and, finally, Alzheimer’s disease.

The statistics for leading causes of death among elderly are nearly identical across racial/ethnic groups.

Chronic illnesses cause about 70% of deaths in the US.

In addition to direct costs in health care, chronic diseases are a significant burden to the economy, through limitations in daily activities, loss in productivity and loss of days of work.

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