Chronic diseases affect millions of Americans and can lead to serious health conditions for those who have at least one.
According to the CDC, 6 in 10 adults have at least one chronic disease and nearly 4 in 10 adults have two chronic diseases. Additionally, chronic diseases cost upwards of $3.3 trillion to treat annually and are the leading cause of disability for U.S adults.
So what is a chronic disease? The simplest definition is a medical condition that inhibits a person’s normal activity and leads to significant health complications over time. Basically, a chronic diseases is likely to lead to many disabilities, organ failure, and potentially death if left unmanaged.
Most chronic diseases are preventable with three key lifestyle changes: a healthy diet, regular exercise, and limited drug and alcohol use. Increased consumption of fried or fatty foods along with a sedentary lifestyle are the greatest risk factors for developing a chronic disease.
However, some individuals can develop a chronic condition based on a hereditary or genetic factor out of their own control. The best way to manage any current chronic diseases is to get regular screenings for key risk indicators, like high blood pressure or cholesterol, and make those key lifestyle changes.
But what are the most common chronic diseases in the U.S? Which chronic diseases are most common and what the unique risk factors for each?
- Diabetes: Nearly 30 million adults in the U.S have diabetes and nearly 86 million live with prediabetes, which is when a person is at an extremely elevated risk for getting the disease. Diabetes is when blood-glucose can’t properly process due to lack of insulin. The elevated blood-glucose from the disease can lead to high blood pressure, heart complications, and kidney disease.
- Heart Disease: Heart disease kills nearly 610,000 annually but is highly preventable with proper diet and exercise. Heart disease can stem from hypertension (high blood pressure) and elevated cholesterol, which impede the flow of blood to the heart.
- Cancer: Nearly 1.5 million new cancer cases are diagnosed each year and can come in many forms. Late-stage cancer may likely lead to death and is significantly expensive to treat.
- Stroke: More than 200,000 adults suffer from a stroke annually. Stroke can lead to long-term disability for most patients.
- Lung Disease: Lung disease is one of the most common chronic conditions in the U.S and internationally. Tobacco use is one of the most significant risk factors for developing long-term lung disease.
- Alzheimer’s Disease: Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia affect roughly 5.6 million American and costs nearly $236 billion in national care costs to treat.