About Chronic Diseases

Six in ten adults in the US have a chronic disease and four in ten adults have two or more.

Chronic diseases are defined broadly as conditions that last 1 year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both. Chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. They are also leading drivers of the nation’s $3.3 trillion in annual health care costs.

Many chronic diseases are caused by a short list of risk behaviors:

Major Chronic Diseases
Major Risk Factors

CDC’s Response to Chronic Diseases

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Heart Disease and Stroke

More than 810,000 Americans die of heart disease or stroke every year—that’s one-third of all deaths.

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Cancer

Each year in the United States, more than 1.5 million people are diagnosed with cancer, and more than 500,000 die of the disease.

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Diabetes

More than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes, and 1 in 4 of them don’t know they have it.

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Multiple Chronic Conditions

One in four Americans has multiple chronic conditions, and that number rises to three in four Americans aged 65 and older.

CDC’s Response to Chronic Disease Risk Factors

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Tobacco Use

Cigarette smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times, stroke by 2 to 4 times, and lung cancer by 25 times.

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Poor Nutrition

Poor nutrition contributes to many costly diseases, including obesity, heart disease, and some cancers.

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Lack of Physical Activity

Lack of physical activity can lead to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and some kinds of cancer.

alcoholic drinks

Excessive Alcohol Use

Excessive alcohol use can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, liver diseases, and some kinds of cancer

Page last reviewed: May 16, 2019