International Association of Healthcare Professionals Medical Conferences
International Association of Healthcare Professionals Medical Conferences

Effects of Chronic Diseases in the Community:  Analysis of the Public Health issueS

In the Proceedings of the IAHCP 26th Annual Scientific Meeting and Conference, Blackpool, UK, 18 – 21 July 2015


Effects of Chronic Diseases in the Community:  Analysis of the Public Health issues, by Maria Jana Kingsley-Godwin



Maria Jana Kingsley-Godwin informed conference that the objective of her study was to evaluate the public health perspectives of the effects of chronic diseases in the community. She carried this study out by a systematic clinical review of the literature.


Conference was told that Maria Jana carried out a systematic literature review of online databases such as Medline and EMBASE, and that she visited specialist library sources, journals, magazines, theses, grey literature, various published and unpublished materials and expert opinions.


The methods used by Maria Jana involved formulating questions on various chronic diseases which were then used to undertake the clinical review.  The questions included: the health risk behaviours that cause chronic diseases, epidemiology, prevention, prevalence, risk factors and cost of treatments for different chronic diseases commonly found in the community. She told conference of the systematic review of the literature she performed; evaluating online databases, printed journals and articles, online journals, books, published and unpublished materials, theses, magazines, grey literature from 1966 to 2015, and expert opinions on various clinical capacities.   The data obtained was ranked in order of superiority and evidence, grading levels in order to reach the best data for each question asked.


Conference was then made aware of the results. Firstly, a consensus description of chronic disease from literature and experts is that it is a disease that persists for a long time, especially one lasting three months or more. Generally, it was found that chronic diseases tend to become more common with age. The identified leading chronic diseases in developed countries include arthritis, cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks and stroke, cancer such as breast and colon cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and seizures, obesity, and oral health problems. Each of these conditions plagues older adults in developed nations, and also in developing countries. 


Maria went on to inform conference that chronic diseases were often referred to as the leading causes of death and disability in the world. In many studies, chronic diseases and conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and arthritis were listed as among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems. Statistical evidence showed the following results:


  • As of 2012, about half of all adults, 117 million people in the World, had one or more chronic health conditions. One in four adults had two or more chronic health conditions.
  • Seven of the top ten causes of death in 2010 were chronic diseases. Two of these chronic diseases; heart disease and cancer, together accounted for nearly 48% of all deaths.
  • Obesity is a serious health concern. During 2009–2010, more than one-third of adults, or about 78 million people, were obese (defined as body mass index [BMI] ≥30 kg/m2). Nearly one of five youths aged 2–19 years was obese (BMI ≥95th percentile).
  • Arthritis is the most common cause of disability. Of the 53 million adults with a doctor diagnosis of arthritis, more than 22 million say they have trouble with their usual activities because of arthritis.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations other than those caused by injury, and new cases of blindness among adults.


Another factor that Maria Jana brought to the attention of conference is that health risk behaviours can cause chronic diseases. Health risk factors are unhealthy behaviours that can be changed. Four of these health risk behaviours: lack of exercise or physical activity, poor nutrition, tobacco use, and drinking too much alcohol, can cause much of the illness, suffering, and early death related to chronic diseases and conditions. Research findings also showed the following data:


  • In 2011, more than half (52%) of adults aged 18 years or older did not meet recommendations for aerobic exercise or physical activity. In addition, 76% did not meet recommendations for muscle-strengthening physical activity.
  • About half of global adults (47%) have at least one of the following major risk factors for heart disease or stroke: uncontrolled high blood pressure, uncontrolled high LDL cholesterol, or are current smokers. Ninety per cent of Americans consume too much sodium, increasing their risk of high blood pressure.


  • In 2011, more than one-third (36%) of adolescents and 38% of adults said they ate fruit less than once a day, while 38% of adolescents and 23% of adults said they ate vegetables less than once a day.
  • More than 42 million adults—close to 1 of every 5—said they currently smoked cigarettes in 2012.   Cigarette smoking accounts for more than 480,000 deaths each year in the USA compared to the rest of the World. Each day, more than 3,200 youths younger than 18 years smoke their first cigarette, and another 2,100 youths and young adults, who smoke every now and then, become daily smokers.
  • Drinking too much alcohol is responsible for 88,000 deaths each year, more than half of which are due to binge drinking.  About 38 million US adults report binge drinking an average of 4 times a month, and have an average of 8 drinks per binge. Yet most binge drinkers are not alcohol dependent.


Conference was further informed that in many parts of the world chronic diseases and conditions and their health risk behaviours account for most health care costs. It was reported thus:


  • Eighty-six per cent of all health care spending in 2010 in the USA and UK was for people with one or more chronic medical conditions.
  • The total costs of heart disease and stroke in 2010 in the USA were estimated to be £245.1 billion and £122.5 billion. Of this amount, £89.1 billion was for direct medical costs, which did not include costs of nursing home care.
  • Cancer care cost £77 billion in 2010 dollars.
  • The total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes in 2012 was £135 billion, including £79 billion in direct medical costs and £41 billion in decreased productivity. Decreased productivity includes costs associated with people being absent from work, being less productive while at work, or not being able to work at all because of diabetes.
  • The total cost of arthritis and related conditions was about £65 billion in 2003. Of this amount, nearly £52 billion was for direct medical costs and £29 billion was for indirect costs associated with lost earnings.
  • Medical costs linked to obesity were estimated to be £67 billion in 2008. Annual medical costs for people who are obese were £719 higher than those for people of normal weight in 2006.
  • For the years 2009-2012, economic cost due to smoking is estimated to be more than £168 billion a year. This cost includes at least £69 billion in direct medical care for adults and more than £71 billion for lost productivity from premature death estimated from 2005 through 2009.
  • The economic costs of drinking too much alcohol were estimated to be £115.2 billion, or £1.27 a drink, in 2006. Most of these costs were due to binge drinking and resulted from losses in workplace productivity, health care expenses, and crimes related to excessive drinking.


In conclusion Maria  Jana emphasised that chronic diseases - such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, and arthritis - are the leading causes of disability and death in the World. More than 40% of global adults suffer from a chronic disease, and chronic diseases are responsible for 23% of all hospitalisations internationally. Six out of every 10 deaths in many parts of the world are caused by chronic diseases. Heart disease and cancer account for over half of all deaths in the world.  Consequently, the illness is long term, and its effects can be stressful, and may change the way a person lives, and how they interact with others.  Therefore, in chronic or long-term illnesses, sufferers would have to adjust to the demands of the illness and the therapy used to treat the condition in order to maximise the benefit and have a better prognosis.  Hence it is important to speak to a doctor or health care provider for help in dealing with a chronic illness.



Correspondence: Maria Jana Kingsley-Godwin, Author and Medical Writer,London, England, UK






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