Chronic Disease Overview
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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
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
- Nearly $98.6 billion is spent on dental services each year.
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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.
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Page last reviewed:
March 20, 2008
Page last modified: November 20, 2008
Content source: National Center for
Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion