Primary Navigation for the CDC Website
CDC en EspaƱol
Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Email Icon Email this page
Printer Friendly Icon Printer-friendly version
 Chronic Disease
bullet Home
bullet Overview
bullet CDC's Chronic Disease Programs
bullet Tracking Conditions & Risk Behaviors
bullet Scientific Observations
bullet State and Program Examples
bullet State Profiles
bullet Publications

bullet About CDCs Chronic Disease Center
bullet Press Room
bullet Related Links

Contact Info
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP)
4770 Buford Hwy, NE
MS K-40
Atlanta, GA 30341-3717

bullet Contact NCCDPHP


Chronic Disease Overview

On this page—

The profile of diseases contributing most heavily to death, illness, and disability among Americans changed dramatically during the last century. Today, chronic diseases—such as cardiovascular disease (primarily heart disease and stroke), cancer, and diabetes—are among the most prevalent, costly, and preventable of all health problems. Seven of every 10 Americans who die each year, or more than 1.7 million people, die of a chronic disease. The prolonged course of illness and disability from such chronic diseases as diabetes and arthritis results in extended pain and suffering and decreased quality of life for millions of Americans. Chronic, disabling conditions cause major limitations in activity for more than one of every 10 Americans, or 25 million people

Leading Causes of Death in the United States, 2003. Click below for text description.

(Text description of this chart is also available.)

Costs of Chronic Disease

The United States cannot effectively address escalating health care costs without addressing the problem of chronic diseases: 

  • In 2005, 133 million people, almost half of all Americans lived with at least one chronic condition.
  • Chronic diseases account for 70% of all deaths in the United States.
  • The medical care costs of people with chronic diseases account for more than 75% of the nation’s $2 trillion medical care costs.
  • Chronic diseases account for one-third of the years of potential life lost before age 65.
  • Hospitalizations for pregnancy-related complications occurring before delivery account for more than $1 billion annually.
  • The direct and indirect costs of diabetes is $174 billion a year.
  • Each year, arthritis results in estimated medical care costs of nearly $81 billion, and estimated total costs (medical care and lost productivity) of $128 billion.
  • The estimated direct and indirect costs associated with smoking exceed $193 billion annually.
  • In 2008, the cost of heart disease and stroke in the U.S. is projected to be $448 billion.
  • The estimated total costs of obesity was nearly $117 billion in 2000.
  • Cancer costs the nation an estimated $89 billion annually in direct medical costs.
  • Nearly $98.6 billion is spent on dental services each year.

Back To Top

Cost-Effectiveness of Prevention

  • For every $1 spent on water fluoridation, $38 is saved in dental restorative treatment costs.
  • Implementing proven clinical smoking cessation interventions would cost an estimated $2,587 for each year of life saved, the most cost-effective of all clinical preventative services.
  • For each $1 spent on the Safer Choice Program (a school-based HIV, other STD, and pregnancy prevention program), about $2.65 is saved on medical and social costs.
  • Every $1 spent on preconception care programs for women with diabetes, can reduce health costs by up to $5.19 by preventing costly complications in both mothers and babies.
  • Implementing the Arthritis Self-Help Course among 10,000 individuals with arthritis will yield a net savings of more than $2.5 million while simultaneously reducing pain by 18 percent among participants.
  • A mammogram every 2 years for women aged 50–69 costs only about $9,000 per year of life saved. This cost compares favorably with other widely used clinical preventive services.

Back To Top

Related Information

Back To Top

Page last reviewed: March 20, 2008
Page last modified: March 20, 2008
Content source: National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

  Home | Policies and Regulations | Disclaimer | e-Government | FOIA | Contact Us
Safer, Healthier People

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30333, U.S.A
Tel: (404) 639-3311 / Public Inquiries: (404) 639-3534 / (800) 311-3435 The U.S. government's official web portal.DHHS Department of Health
and Human Services