Chronic Disease

May 25, 1949

Report Outline
Menace of Chronic Disease to Nation's Health
Problems of Controlling Chronic Disease
Prevention and Rehabilitation
Special Focus

Menace of Chronic Disease to Nation's Health

Chronic diseases are now the leading threat to the health of the American people. Taken together, they account for three out of every four deaths in the United States, and they probably afflict one out of every six persons in the country. Nearly every family has one or more members who suffer from some chronic ailment. Surgeon General Scheele of the U. S. Public Health Service has said “Chronic disease is this nation's daily disaster.”

While chronic diseases occur more frequently among persons past middle life, they are by no means confined to the aged. Fully one-third of the chronically ill are persons in their most productive years, between 25 and 45. Many of the chronically ill can and do perform useful work, but at least a billion man-days are thought to be lost each year through disability from chronic ailments.

Among the principal chronic diseases—in terms of prevalence, mortality, and the disability or invalidism they produce—are heart diseases, arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, nervous and mental diseases, arthritis, kindey diseases, tuberculosis, cancer, diabetes, and asthma. Other diseases or conditions which are or may be chronic include hernia, hay fever, sinusitis, tonsilitis, ulcers of the stomach and duodenum, syphilis.

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