Chronic diseases are a major cause of disability and death in Pennsylvania, as well as in the United States. The seven leading causes of deaths are:
- heart disease;
- chronic lower respiratory disease (CLRD);
- unintentional injury;
- Alzheimer’s disease; and
These causes account for about 70 percent of all deaths per year in Pennsylvania. The estimated cost to the Medicaid system of five major chronic diseases (heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, cancer and stroke) was $1.77 billion in 2007 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Chronic Disease Cost Calculator, 2011).
Four modifiable health risk behaviors—lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption—are responsible for much of the illness, suffering and early death related to chronic diseases. An effective public health program targeting these modifiable risk factors is an important step towards a healthier Pennsylvania. The Department of Health has implemented several specific chronic disease prevention programs and is working toward a collaborative and comprehensive approach to chronic disease prevention and management.
The Chronic Disease Burden Report, listed below, outlines the department’s comprehensive approach to chronic disease prevention in Pennsylvania and provides information to stakeholders on Pennsylvania’s chronic disease status.