Chronic health conditions in Australia cost the national healthcare system over $38 billion a year. That’s a staggering amount, especially when you consider that nearly half of the population is living with at least one chronic health condition. Here’s everything you need to know.
What are Chronic Health Conditions?
A chronic condition is any long-term illness, injury or disability that lasts for more than 12 months. It does not go away after a short period of time and can’t be completely cured by medication. Conditions such as arthritis, asthma and heart diseases are all considered chronic health conditions.
Chronic conditions can range from minor to severe and an individual may have more than one condition at the same time (for example, asthma and depression).
How Many People Suffer from Chronic Health Conditions in Australia?
According to The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 1 in 2 adults have at least one chronic condition and 1 in 5 Australian adults experience a mental illness every year.
Chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and illness worldwide. In Australia, they accounted for more than 90% of deaths in 2011, which means that any steps taken towards prevention or management could save lives.
The National Health Survey suggests that roughly 4.8 million people (20.1% of the population) suffer from mental health conditions, 1.2 million people (4.8%) are living with some cardiovascular diseases, 4.0 million people (16.4%) experience back problems, and 2.7 million people (11.2%) have asthma.
Arthritis and diabetes mellitus are also two of the most found chronic health conditions in Australia with 3.6 million people (15.0%) and 1.2 million people (4.9%) suffering from them, respectively.
Types of Chronic Health Conditions
Chronic diseases affect almost everyone at some stage in their lives. The most common chronic conditions found in Australia include:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Chronic eye problems
- Diabetes mellitus
- Kidney disease
- Mental health disorders
- Musculoskeletal conditions
- Asthma and other lung and respiratory conditions
- Neurological conditions
- Back problems
Factors that Affect your Risk of Developing a Chronic Condition
Contrary to popular belief, some people aren’t more likely to get a chronic health condition. There are many things that increase your chances of experiencing a chronic illness. Below are some commonly found risk factors:
- Diet: Your diet is one of the biggest factors in developing a chronic condition. Eating lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help you lower your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, reducing your chances of getting heart disease or developing diabetes.
- Activity: Exercise helps build muscle mass and improve circulation, which helps with digestion and keeps your immune system strong enough to fight off illnesses. The best part is that you don’t need to run marathons every day to improve your health—just hitting the gym once or twice a week can make a big difference in how healthy you feel overall.
- Stress level: Stress can cause us all sorts of problems like depression, digestive and respiratory issues, and cardiovascular diseases. While it is impossible to eliminate stress from our lives, learning to manage it better can lower the risk factors.