Chronic Medical Conditions

The Leading Causes of Death and Disability in the United States

Chronic diseases and conditions—such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and arthritis—are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems.

  • As of 2012, about half of all adults—117 million people—had one or more chronic health conditions. One in four adults had two or more chronic health conditions.
    Seven of the top 10 causes of death in 2014 were chronic diseases. Two of these chronic diseases—heart disease and cancer—together accounted for nearly 46% of all deaths.
  • Obesity is a serious health concern. During 2011–2014, more than one-third of adults (36%), or about 84 million people, were obese (defined as body mass index [BMI] ≥30 kg/m2). About one in six youths (17%) aged 2 to 19 years was obese (BMI ≥95th percentile).
  • Arthritis is the most common cause of disability. Of the 54 million adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis, more than 23 million say they have trouble with their usual activities because of arthritis.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations other than those caused by injury, and new cases of blindness among adults.

Health Risk Behaviors that Cause Chronic Diseases

Health risk behaviors are unhealthy behaviors you can change. Four of these health risk behaviors—lack of exercise or physical activity, poor nutrition, tobacco use, and drinking too much alcohol—cause much of the illness, suffering, and early death related to chronic diseases and conditions.

  • In 2015, 50% of adults aged 18 years or older did not meet recommendations for aerobic physical activity. In addition, 79% did not meet recommendations for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity.
    More than 1 in 3 adults (about 92.1 million) have at least one type of cardiovascular disease. About 90% of Americans aged 2 years or older consume too much sodium, which can increase their risk of high blood pressure.
  • In 2015, more than 37% of adolescents and 40% of adults said they ate fruit less than once a day, while 39% of adolescents and 22% of adults said they ate vegetables less than once a day.
  • An estimated 36.5 million adults in the United States (15.1%) said they currently smoked cigarettes in 2015. Cigarette smoking accounts for more than 480,000 deaths each year. Each day, more than 3,200 youth younger than 18 years smoke their first cigarette, and another 2,100 youth and young adults who smoke every now and then become daily smokers.
  • Drinking too much alcohol is responsible for 88,000 deaths each year, more than half of which are due to binge drinking. US adults report binge drinking an average of 4 times a month, and have an average of 8 drinks per binge, yet most binge drinkers are not alcohol dependent.

Find the full article at the CDC Website.

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