Chronic diseases, which cannot be cured completely and only controlled, are responsible for 60% of all deaths worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Chronic illnesses include heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes. A new report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that “chronic diseases are the main causes of poor health, disability, and death, and account for most of health care expenditures in the U.S.” The report also shows that that Medicare enrollees, most of whom are over 65) account for $300 billion in health care spending.
In the article published in the Lancet, the researchers from the CDC report that most chronic conditions result from preventable risk factors. Key risk factors mentioned include high blood pressure, tobacco smoking and second-hand smoke exposure, high BMI, physical inactivity, alcohol use, and diets low in fruits and vegetables and high in sodium and saturated fats.
According to the report:
- About half (50.9%) which is 117 million of the adults in the United States, have at least one chronic condition such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, or obesity and
- 26% adults have two or more chronic conditions
The article also suggests coordinated and mutually-reinforcing actions to reduce the chronic disease burden such as measures to monitor trends and track progress, policy and environmental approaches to enhance health and support healthy behaviors, healthcare interventions to improve the effective delivery and use of preventive and other high-value clinical services, and links between community programs and clinical services to promote and support the management of the conditions.
Many chronic diseases are preventable. Experts point out that a few key strategies such as better diet, exercise, and weight loss, along with smoking cessation can work together to reduce the chances of developing several conditions such as cardiovascular disease and cancers. Policy makers stress the importance of prevention and by focusing on the causes of chronic disease, the Affordable Care Act seeks to improve the health of Americans, reduce healthcare costs and improve quality of care.
Leading healthcare centers support government initiatives by offering quality treatments to help people deal with chronic conditions as well as evidence-based interventions to prevent heart attacks, strokes, cancer and other conditions by cutting tobacco use, preventing obesity, and reducing health disparities. They offer special programs for older adults with special focus on improving quality of life and independence.