Chronic Conditions Epidemic: The Fallout

A recent report by the CDC has painted a startling picture. With the rise in health-related issues due to chronic conditions that many suffer from, the report states that, “According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) one-quarter of the US adult population has multiple chronic conditions (MCCs), but that average doesn’t reflect regional differences, which include state MCC rates as low as 1 in 5 residents to a high of more than 1 in 3.”

The study surveyed over 36 thousand adults and tracked 10 different conditions that they could possibly have: arthritis, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, coronary heart disease, diabetes, hepatitis, hypertension, stroke, or weak or failing kidneys.

What exactly is a chronic condition?

            It’s basically a condition or disease that persists throughout a long period of time. Something like besity, which plagues millions of US citizens, can be an issue for an entire lifetime, and can lead to other health-related issues. They also generally cannot be cured or vaccinated against. Multiple-chronic conditions, which was studied in this report, is having more than one chronic condition at the same time.

Chronic conditions have rapidly risen over the last decade

Chronic conditions have rapidly risen over the last decade

What they found

Health and location correlate

Regionally, the Pacific area (Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California) registered the lowest MCC average at 21.4%, while the East South Central region (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee) reported the highest rate, with 1 in 3 residents (34.5%) experiencing MCCs.

Although we can’t pinpoint the cause of this trend, some educational speculations can be made. The first is that the East Coast has a higher amount of metropolitan areas. With a denser population and higher amount of pollution, this creates a concoction that significantly increases the chance of chronic conditions. Another factor that could come into play is the culture. Some regions eat differently and have a different health curriculum, causing this difference.

Sex doesn’t matter       

            Nationally, women experienced a higher prevalence of MCCs than men, at 27.2% compared with 24.1% for men, with region-based fluctuation. We can make the assumption that many of these CCs are related to lifestyle and health, rather than genetic makeup.

The higher the age, the higher the risk 

Prevalence of MCCs was lowest for the 18-44 age group (7.3%) and highest among adults 65 and older (61.6%). The 45-64 age group reported a 32.1% rate. This makes sense, since the older you get, the more likely you are to develop chronic conditions. However, these rates still paint a bleak picture as our baby-boomer generation grows older.

A variety of factors can lead to chronic conditions

A variety of factors can lead to chronic conditions



            One of the biggest ways to prevent these CCs is to inform people about the difficulties they can cause. With the amount of MCC cases rising in rural areas, it would make sense to educate those regions so they know how to reduce their risk. Working together with the FDA can also create healthier alternatives to limit the risk of obesity and other complications.

Physical Therapy and Exercise 

            APTA (American Physical Therapy Association) has become a strong advocate for a program designed to reduce CCs, and they’ve even released priorities to go after in the coming years.  The priorities include active living, injury prevention, and secondary prevention in chronic disease and disability management. APTA highlights the role of the physical therapist and physical therapist assistant in the treatment of chronic conditions through its prevention and wellness program.

Author: Troy Diffenderfer

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