Definition of Chronic disease – MedicineNet

Posted: August 31, 2020 at 5:52 am

Chronic disease: A disease that persists for a long time. A chronicdisease is one lasting 3 months or more, by the definition of the U.S. NationalCenter for Health Statistics. Chronic diseases generally cannot be prevented byvaccines or cured by medication, nor do they just disappear. Eighty-eightpercent of Americans over 65 years of age have at least one chronic healthcondition (as of 1998). Health damaging behaviors - particularly tobacco use,lack of physical activity, and poor eating habits - are major contributors tothe leading chronic diseases.

Chronic diseases tend to become more common with age. The leading chronicdiseases in developed countries include (in alphabetical order) arthritis,cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks and stroke, cancer such as breast and colon cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and seizures, obesity, and oral healthproblems. Each of these conditions plague older adults in the US (and otherdeveloped nations).

Arthritis and related conditions are the leading cause of disabilityin the US affecting nearly 43 million Americans. Although cost-effectiveinterventions are available to reduce the burden of arthritis, they areunderused. Regular, moderate exercise offers a host of benefits to people witharthritis by reducing joint pain and stiffness, building strong muscle aroundthe joints, and increasing flexibility and endurance.

Cardiovascular disease is a growing concern in the US. Heart disease is the nation's leading cause of death. Three health-related behaviors--tobaccouse, lack of physical activity, and poor nutrition--contribute markedly toheart disease. Modifying these behaviors is critical for both preventing andcontrolling heart disease. Modest changes in one or more of these risk factorsamong the population could have a profound public health impact.

Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the US. Cancer islargely controllable through prevention, early detection, and treatment.Reducing the nation's cancer burden requires reducing the prevalence of thebehavioral and environmental factors that increase cancer risk. It also requiresensuring that cancer screening services and high-quality treatment are availableand accessible, particularly to medically underserved populations.

Three screening tools flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, and the fecal occult blood test (FOBT) are widely accepted and used to detect colorectal cancer in its earliest stages, when treatment is most effective. In 1999, 66% of Americans aged 50 years or older reported not having had a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy within the last five years, and 79% reported not having had a fecal occult blood test within the last year.

Diabetes is a serious, costly, and increasingly common chronicdisease. Early detection, improved delivery of care, and better self-managementare the key strategies for preventing much of the burden of diabetes. Sevenmillion persons aged 65 years or older (20.1% of all people in this age group)have diabetes, most of them type 2 diabetes.

Epilepsy and seizures affect about 2.3 million Americans, and resultin an estimated $12.5 billion in medical costs and lost or reduced earnings andproduction annually in the US. People of all ages are affected, but particularlythe very young and the elderly. About 10% of Americans will experience a seizure, and about 3% will have or will have had a diagnosis of epilepsy by age80.

Obesity has reached epidemic proportions among Americans in all agegroups. Obesity among adults has doubled since 1980. People who are obese oroverweight are at increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure,diabetes, arthritis-related disabilities, and some cancers.

Oral health problems are an important and often overlooked componentof an older adult's general health and well-being. Oral health problems cancause pain and suffering as well as difficulty in speaking, chewing, swallowing,and maintaining a nutritious diet.

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Definition of Chronic disease - MedicineNet

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