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Chronic Diseases

Chronic disease is the major cause of death and disability in Illinois. Six common chronic diseases – cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and pulmonary conditions – account for the majority of the 10 leading causes of death in the state and affect more than 6.7 million Illinoisans, more than half its population (Illinois Center for Health Statistics). These conditions shorten lives, reduce quality of life and create considerable burden for caregivers. The human cost is enormous, but the economic cost also is great. Studies have found Illinois spends more than $12.5 billion a year in health care dollars to treat chronic diseases. The financial burden from the impact of lost work days and lower employee productivity during the same period resulted in an annual economic loss of $43.6 billion. These conditions also decrease human productivity. Over the course of three years (2006-2008), more than one million years of productive life was lost in Illinois due to chronic disease (Illinois Center for Health Statistics). Chronic diseases occur more often with age. With the aging of the baby boomer generation, Illinois will experience a dramatic increase in chronic disease in the next 20 years.

Chronic diseases are largely preventable conditions associated with an individual’s health and lifestyle choices. At least 80 percent of premature heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes and 40 percent of cancer diagnoses could be prevented through healthy diet, regular physical activity and avoidance of tobacco products.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (Department) is committed to addressing the burden of chronic disease by supporting collaborative approaches to public health policy, communication, surveillance and epidemiology, evaluation, and community mobilization; strengthening delivery and use of chronic disease related clinical and other preventive services; and effective chronic disease management.

The Division of Chronic Disease Prevention and Control is located within the Office of Health Promotion. The Division is made up of many programs with the common goal to reduce the burden of chronic disease in Illinois. Those programs include: