Arkansas has a Chronic Disease Epidemic

In Arkansas, chronic diseases are a systemic problem, and treatment costs the state millions of dollars each year.

4D Healthware is committed to reversing this trend and helping bend the cost curve. We were encouraged to see the Arkansas Chronic Disease Coordinating Council release its Chronic Condition Communication Kit last year. In the kit, medical specialists share information and advice about managing chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. The council expects the kit to help lift Arkansas from the bottom of America’s health-ranking list.

Why?

Why is there a coordinated effort among healthcare professionals and the government? Simple: unmanaged chronic conditions consume resources.

Arkansas ranks 48th out of the 50 states for general population health – largely a result of the prevalence of chronic health conditions. Untreated, these conditions often lead to an early death, consuming costly medical procedures in the process. But, caught early, they can be managed – providing a longer life for the patient and less costly treatment.

Two Conditions Dominate

Two conditions, heart disease and cancer, are the top two causes of premature death in Arkansas, accounting for 46 percent of statewide mortalities in 2011. They are a national concern, too; the two accounted for 48 percent of premature deaths in the nation in 2010. Hypertension (high blood pressure), an aspect of heart disease, impacts 40.4 percent of Arkansans –  slightly higher than the national average.

Every year, cancer affects thousands more Arkansans. In 2016, an estimated 16,460 new cases of all cancers will be diagnosed, and 6,830 people will die from the disease. Lung cancers are by far the most common, likely a result of the state’s high rate of cigarette smoking. Breast cancer is expected to be found in 2,090 women, and prostate tumors will be found in 1,670 men. Cancers found in other parts of the body (brain, colon, liver, pancreas, etc.) will be diagnosed in another 2,000 cases.

Then there’s diabetes. In 2013, less than 10 percent of all Americans reported being diabetic, while 11.5 percent of Arkansans were dealing with the disease.

Arkansans also experience a higher incidence of diabetes-related renal failure than diabetics in the rest of the country. Race can play a factor in health, as well. Hospitalization for gestational diabetes occurs five times more often in white Arkansan women than in black women, and six times more often than in Hispanic women.

Despite the numbers, together with Arkansas’s medical and political communities, 4D Healthware is dedicated to reducing untreated chronic disease in Arkansas. We have hope that in the near future, we can make a significant impact.