Roughly 45 percent of the population – 133 million Americans – have at least one chronic illness. A chronic illness is an ongoing, and for the most part incurable, medical condition. Most frequently, these are illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, dementia, high blood pressure, or depression and other mental illnesses that impact day-to-day life.
We know now that chronic diseases can be managed – sometimes to the point where there are no symptoms. But knowing how to counteract symptoms doesn’t mean that chronic diseases are on the decline. Quite the contrary – here are the fastest-growing chronic diseases in America.
- Obesity – Close to 79 million adults are obese, resulting in an annual price tag of $147 billion in healthcare and related spending. Critically, obesity is also the root cause of some of the leading chronic conditions, including heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Diet and exercise, as obvious as the answer is, is the only real long-term answer.
- Diabetes – Many physicians will recommend certain lifestyle changes to normalize glucose levels and counteract a diabetes diagnosis. Studies have shown that with an intensive diet and exercise regime, many sufferers can go into remission. Yet diabetes has been steadily on the rise. Over the past 35 years, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes has quadrupled – from 5 million to 22 million.
- Heart disease – Heart disease is the end result of many other chronic conditions – obesity, diabetes, and high cholesterol – as well as genetic factors. In 2013, heart disease caused more than 600,000 deaths in the U.S. That is enough to make it the leading cause of death for both men and women.
- Depression – Depression affects approximately 15 million American adults, around 6.7 percent of the population over 18 years old. Following the trend, depression is heavily linked to other chronic conditions as well: 25 percent of cancer patients, 10 to 27 percent of post-stroke patients, and 1 in 3 heart attack survivors experience depression. Depression is more challenging to treat on a daily basis, and for many it requires the use of prescription drugs and counseling.
Fortunately for the growing population with chronic diseases, the main theme is that there are many ways to manage the illnesses. Patients need to take the advice of their medical professionals and utilize technology to help. That could mean getting the right health tracker, or if you got one this holiday season, committing to utilizing it. Then, it’s time to convert that data into actionable health recommendations via the 4D Healthware platform.