July 26, 2011

Chronic diseases include heart disease, cancer, hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, and diabetes. The economic cost of chronic diseases represents 75% of all health care costs. Chronic diseases are involved in 80% of the deaths in the United States. As of 2005, 44% of Americans were suffering from least one chronic disease and 13% of Americans were suffering from three or more chronic diseases.

Chronic diseases are an increasingly important problem in the U.S. that will affect about 157 million Americans by 2020 (the prevalence of cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease are expected  to increase by more than 40% in the next two decades). The increase in chronic diseases is not due solely to the aging population in the U.S. (because people are living longer) but also to the increasing incidence of chronic diseases in children and young adults due to more of them having obesity, diabetes, and asthma (here’s a scary statistic: the number of people in the U.S. between ages 25 and 44 who had one or more chronic diseases doubled between 1996 and 2005).

Source: CDC

A recent essay appearing on the CDC’s website suggests four broad strategies to address the increasing problem of chronic diseases:

1.  Environmental and consumer protection issues must be addressed. Air pollution contributes to cancer, heart disease, and respiratory diseases (more than 146 million people in the U.S. in 2002 lived in areas that failed to meet air pollution standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). Tobacco use, alcohol use, and unhealthy foods high in fat, sugar, salt, and calories are not adequately regulated and are promoted by new and more widespread marketing efforts by the food industry that have effectively increased their use and abuse.

2. The public health infrastructure at all levels in the U.S. needs to be strengthened to insure better surveillance programs, environmental interventions, and regulatory control. Because of the recent economic downturn, more people are seeking more public health services related to chronic diseases but there are less programs available.

3. The U.S. needs to take steps to promote healthy choices by encouraging greater physical activity in its citizens. For example, local governments can promote bike paths, walking paths, and other projects to discourage sedentary lifestyles.

4. The health care system in the U.S. needs to focus on prevention of chronic diseases by strengthening and extending tobacco cessation programs, nutritional programs, alcohol counseling, etc.

With the increase in the prevalence of chronic diseases in the U.S. that is expected to grow in the future, people with chronic diseases will need proper and regular medical care. The increasing need for medical care will likely increase the incidence of medical errors and negligent medical care, and medical malpractice negligence will be a growing problem in the future. If you have been the victim  of medical malpractice by a negligent medical provider, you have certain rights that you need to protect. Visit our website to be connected with local medical malpractice lawyers who may be able to assist you with your possible medical malpractice claim. We can also be reached toll free at 800-295-3959. Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.