Chronic Disease Management

A chronic condition is a human health condition or disease that is persistent or otherwise long-lasting in its effects or a disease that comes with time. The term chronic is often applied when the course of the disease lasts for more than three months. Common chronic diseases include arthritis, asthma, cancer, COPD, diabetes and viral diseases such as hepatitis C 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.

The non-communicable diseases are also usually lasting medical conditions but are separated by their non-infectious causes. In contrast, some chronic diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, are caused by transmissible infections. In the United States 25% of adults have at least two chronic conditions. Chronic diseases constitute a major cause of mortality, with the World Health Organization(WHO) attributing 38 million deaths a year to non-communicable diseases.

Risk Factors

While risk factors vary with age and gender, most of the common chronic diseases in the US are caused by dietary, lifestyle and metabolic risk factors that are also responsible for the resulting mortality. Therefore, these conditions might be prevented by behavioral changes, such as quitting smoking, adopting a healthy diet, and increasing physical activity. Social determinants are important risk factors for chronic diseases. Social factors, e.g., socioeconomic status, education level, and race/ethnicity, are a major cause for the disparities observed in the care of chronic disease.


Evidence supports that prevention is effective in reducing the effect of chronic conditions; in particular, early detection results in less severe outcomes. Clinical preventive services of chronic disease include screening for the existence of the disease or predisposition to its development, counseling and immunizations against infectious agents. 

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