Chronic diseases, unlike acute illnesses, develop slowly and are often incurable. Today, chronic disease accounts for 77% of all total disease in Europe, and that number is on the rise. In fact, the increasing lifespans of Europeans and lifestyle choices such as smoking and physical inactivity, are the two main factors contributing to the rise in chronic disease.
It is projected that ageing Europeans will develop at least two chronic diseases in their lifetime. These include four major categories of chronic conditions—cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes mellitus. The impact on productivity is to be taken seriously: chronic diseases could affect almost 25% of all workers, which could have a serious impact on their ability to continue working. However, loss of work productivity is not inevitable; early intervention can help slow the progression—and help patients better manage—some chronic diseases. Others, such as certain cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes, could be greatly reduced by targeted health campaigns and education initiatives.
“Responding to the Growing Cost and Prevalence of People With Multiple Chronic Conditions”, by Gerard Anderson, PhD, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Spotlight on Prevention: When, Who and How?
Unhealthy lifestyles and lack of physical activity are key factors in the development of chronic diseases. Early prevention and diagnosis, better education, and above all collaboration among governments, patient organizations, and industry are crucial to prevent chronic diseases from arising.