12 Interesting Facts About Chronic Diseases

By Asad Pasha

November 21st, 2019 

Due to changes in our modern lifestyle, chronic disease has become a serious issue with some staggering statistics. Poor lifestyle choices can have an effect on your health that builds up slowly over time. Chronic diseases are broadly defined by the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention (NCCDPHP) as “conditions that last 1 year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both.”1 Cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, as well as poor bone health are some examples of chronic diseases you may have heard of. Here’s a list of some of the most interesting facts from reputable sources on chronic disease: 


1. About half of all American adults have one or more preventable chronic disease.2

2. Chronic disease is responsible for 60% of all deaths worldwide.3 

3. If major risk factors for chronic disease were eliminated, at least 80% of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes would be prevented, as well as 40% of cancer.3 

4. 95% of healthcare costs for older Americans can be attributed to chronic diseases but less than 1% of healthcare dollars are spent on prevention.4 

5. Four of the five most expensive health conditions in the United States are chronic conditions- heart disease, cancer, mental disorder, and pulmonary conditions.5  

6. Those who die of chronic disease before age 65 lost one-third years of potential life.6 

7. It’s a myth that chronic diseases are “diseases of affluence,” as it is known that chronic diseases emerge both in poorer countries and in the poorer population groups in richer countries.

8. It has been projected that by 2020, chronic diseases will account for almost three-quarters of all deaths worldwide

9. 79% of all deaths worldwide that are attributable to chronic diseases are already occurring in developing countries.  

10. By 2020, it’s predicted that 71% of deaths due to ischemic heart disease (IHD), 75% of deaths due to stroke, and 70% of deaths due to diabetes will occur in developing countries.

11. Prevention is considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be the most cost-effective, affordable, and sustainable course of action to cope with the global chronic disease epidemic.

12. While age, sex, and genetics are non-modifiable, many risk factors associated with chronic diseases can be changes. These modifiable risk factors include diet, physical activity, weight, and environment.7  

A Healthier Future: Preventing Chronic Diseases

Since the 20th century, medical innovations have reduced early mortality and pushed our life expectancy further and further, but now we’ve got to deal with the issues that come with an ageing population. Not only do humans life longer in general now, but they live a more sedentary lifestyle than they used to. This has pushed the rate of obesity and diseases like diabetes upwards. Over the past century, traditional, plant-based diets were also replaced by energy-dense, high-fat diets. The combination of physical inactivity and a poor diet, as well as other risk factors like tobacco use, has led to the staggering statistics of chronic disease that this article has listed. 

The good news is that chronic diseases are largely preventable. There’s enough evidence out there to justify taking action on chronic disease before it every happens. The factors that influence your risk of chronic disease can be split into two categories: modifiable and unmodifiable. Modifiable factors are factors that you have control over, meaning they can be changed. Unmodifiable factors, on the other hand, are factors that cannot be changes, such as genetics. We’ve built a free online risk assessment to help you determine what modifiable and unmodifiable risk factors you have for several chronic diseases. It takes about 5 minutes to complete, after which you’ll be sent to your personalized report page that details your risk for the chronic diseases you’ve selected. The report page will show you, based on how you answered the risk assessment, exactly what changes you need to implement in your life in order to reduce your risk for chronic disease. 

Choose a quiz, find out your risk

Answer each question honestly and to the best of your knowledge. All information will be stored confidentially and no personally identifiable information is asked during the quiz. Each quiz takes about 5 minutes.

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1. “About Chronic Diseases.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, October 23, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/about.index.htm

2. “About Chronic Diseases.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, October 23, 2019https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/about.index.htm

3. World Health Organization, Accessed Nov. 2019, https://www/who.int/features/factfules/chp/01_en.html

4. “Chronic Disease Facts.” NCOA, June 1, 2017, https://www/ncoa.org/news/resources-for-reporters/get-the-facts/chronic-disease-facts/

5. “About Chronic Disease.” National Health Council, July 29, 2014, https://www.nationalhealthcouncil.org/sites/default/files/AboutChronicDisease.pdf

6. “Why Preventing Chronic Disease is Essential- Prevention Works,” NACDD, Nov. 2018, https://www.tfah.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/COMMS_WP_InvestinginCD2018F.pdf

7. “Background.” World Health Organization, June 22 2007. https://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/2_background/en/