Chronic (medicine)

Chronic (medicine)

A chronic disease is a disease or other human health condition that is persistent or long-lasting in nature.[1] The term chronic is usually applied when the course of the disease lasts for more than three months. Common chronic diseases include asthma, cancer, diabetes and HIV/AIDS.

In medicine, the opposite of chronic is acute. A chronic course is further distinguished from a recurrent course; recurrent diseases relapse repeatedly, with periods of remission in between.

While often referred to as "non-communicable diseases", also usually lasting medical conditions, the latter are distinguished by their non-infectious cause. In contrast, some chronic diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, are caused by transmissible infections.


Key chronic conditions

Examples of chronic diseases and health conditions include:

Many chronic diseases require chronic care management for effective long-term treatment. Effective chronic disease control requires attention to social, behavioral, environmental and clinical aspects. Multiple morbidities can be common in older adults.


The World Health Organization (WHO) reports chronic non-communicable conditions to be by far the leading cause of mortality in the world, representing 35 million deaths in 2005 and over 60% of all deaths.[1]

In the United States, nearly one in two Americans (133 million) has a chronic medical condition of one kind or another, with most (58%) between the ages of 18 and 64.[2] The number is projected to increase by more than one percent per year by 2030, resulting in an estimated chronically ill population of 171 million.[2] The most common chronic conditions are high blood pressure, arthritis, respiratory diseases like emphysema, and high cholesterol. Chronic illnesses cause about 70% of deaths in the US and are estimated to take up about 75% of health care costs each year.[3] However, for most people their medical conditions do not impair normal activities. Some 90% of seniors have at least one chronic disease, and 77% have two or more chronic conditions.[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b World Health Organization. Chronic diseases, accessed 11 July 2011.
  2. ^ a b Robert Wood Johnson Foundation & Partnership for Solutions. "Chronic Conditions: Making the Case for Ongoing Care." Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD (September 2004 Update).
  3. ^ National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Chronic Disease Overview. CDC.
  4. ^ Gerard Anderson, "The Growing Burden of Chronic Disease in American." Public Health Reports / May–June 2004 / Volume 119.

External links

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