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Overview of America’s Chronic Disease Problem

Arthritis, diabetes type 2, heart disease, obesity, and stroke generate the most costs and cause the most deaths among the United States population, despite care providers’ ability to prevent the illnesses. In 2012, 117 million consumers suffered from chronic conditions, with one in four of the population having multiple illnesses. Chronic conditions cost each sufferer roughly $6,000 each year, an amount five times higher than the expenses incurred by consumers without chronic conditions. The following overviews provide more detail on how these conditions affect the population.

A nurse in a modern setting demonstrates care on a miniature heart model, displaying advanced skills developed during ADU's RN to BSN online program

Heart Disease

Plaque buildup in arteries reduces blood flow, causing heart disease. [1] Annually, the condition causes 25 percent of deaths in the United States, totaling to 610,000 mortalities. Coronary heart disease causes over half of those deaths. According to the Department of Health and Human Services Million Heart campaign, heart disease and stroke afflict the most consumers and generate the most expenses among all chronic conditions, costing firms over $300 billion in disbursements and productivity.


Brain cells deprived of oxygen by restricted blood flow causes stroke, a complication resulting from heart disease. [2] According to the National Stroke Association, 800,000 strokes occur among the population every year.

Care providers can prevent 80 percent of all stroke events. Despite this, strokes claim a life in the United States every five minutes, representing the fifth highest cause of death and disability.

The American Heart Association reports that strokes cost American insurers $70 billion in disbursements and companies $33 billion in productivity losses. [3] Moreover, the association forecasts that this amount will double by 2030.


As of 2016, the American Cancer Society estimates nearly 700,000 new yearly cancer diagnoses and 600,000 cancer deaths. [4] While the cancer rate remains constant for women, advancements in prostate cancer diagnoses have reduced the rate among men. The organization calls for increased funding for cancer research and equitable educational initiatives.

By 2030, cancer treatment will generate $173 billion in expenses, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. While the group expresses exhilaration about promising new cancer treatments and technologies, they raise equal concern over rising consumer costs due to improved patient outcomes and longevity.

Type 2 Diabetes

High blood glucose levels cause hyperglycemia, or type 2 diabetes, where the body develops resistance to naturally produced insulin. [5] The American Diabetes Association reports that nearly 10 percent of the population suffers from diabetes, with 25 percent of the senior population, or nearly 12 million seniors, disproportionately afflicted.

Diabetes treatment generates $322 billion in annual medical expenses, exhausting nearly 35 percent of all Medicare funds and 20 percent of all insurance disbursements. Moreover, global rising insulin costs could reach nearly $50 billion by the year 2020.


The 2015 United States Census reports obesity among more than 30 percent of the adult population, which encompasses 97 million individuals. [6] Obesity in America has risen marginally and consistently since 1997, showing a downturn only once between 2002 and 2003. The Centers for Disease Control reports that medical expenses related to the disease cost nearly $148 million in 2008 and estimates that firms lost nearly $3.5 to $6.5 billion due absenteeism and productivity losses, or $80 to $130 for each overweight employee.


The Arthritis Foundation describes arthritis as a broad term covering joint pain for over 100 diagnoses and complications. [7] The CDC reports detection of the disease in nearly 25 percent of overweight and over 30 percent of obese adults. Over the past 15 years, arthritis, joint inflammation, and joint pain have remained the highest cause of disability. Anti-inflammatory arthritis medications have not changed, yet have risen sharply in price over the last three years; Enbrel, Humira, and Xeljanz have risen 80 percent to $4,000, nearly 70 percent to $3,700, and nearly 45 percent to more than $3,100 respectively for a one month supply.

Managing Chronic Illness One Patient at a Time

The Southern Gerontological Association reports that care coordination helps seniors to manage illnesses and experience improved long-term outcomes and notes that nearly 75 percent of the group suffers from multiple chronic illnesses that generate significant Medicare expenditures. [8] While coordination practices vary, the association indicates that nurses with a keen ability to encourage long-term wellness engagement among multiple chronic illness sufferers improves outcomes, lowers risks, and reduces readmissions for the group.

The United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) evaluates preventative health services and serves as a critical care provider resource for evidence-based recommendations. Nurses can participate in shaping the recommendations through membership in health advocacy groups, such as the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. The USPSTF calls on nurses as primary patient contacts, to promote wellness participation and teach multiple chronic disease sufferers which measures help consumers lead healthier lives.

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Adventist University started building its solid foundation for nursing education in 1908 when it began training nurses so healthcare could be provided for more people. Today they offer cutting edge education and experienced faculty dedicated to helping individuals interested in pursuing a bachelor of science in nursing degree.