Diseases - Statistics & Facts

A disease is a condition which threatens a human’s state of health, causing problems, such as pain, distress, dysfunction, social problems, and death. In fact, diseases include a large part of all causes of death around the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), chronic diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide. Ischemic heart disease alone was responsible for about 8.89 million deaths in 2019. However, all cardiovascular diseases together cause around 17.9 million deaths annually.

Communicable and non communicable diseases

The group of major chronic diseases responsible for the most deaths each year also includes all types of cancer, respiratory diseases and diabetes. In 2020, lung cancer alone caused almost 1.8 million deaths, while liver cancer caused over 830 thousand deaths. Chronic diseases are especially widespread in developed high income countries. Here, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia have become more prevalent over the last decades. Communicable diseases are particularly prevalent in undeveloped, lower-income countries. Diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and all types of diarrheal conditions are much more prevalent than in developed countries. For example, there were around 241 million reported cases of infections of malaria all over the world, with approximately 627 thousand deaths in 2020. Most of these cases and fatalities were reported in Africa.

Common diseases in the United States

In the United States, chronic diseases also account for the largest portion of death cases. All types of heart diseases and cancers are responsible for nearly 40 percent of all deaths. The risk of developing heart disease among all adults in the U.S. has remained constant at around 11 percent over the last decade. As of 2019, about 16.9 million U.S. Americans had been affected by cancer during their lifetime. As in other developed countries, diabetes and Alzheimer’s are becoming growing burdens in the United States. More than a hundred years ago, none of these conditions were among the main health problems affecting the nation. In the year 1900, the most dangerous diseases for Americans were pneumonia or influenza, tuberculosis, and gastrointestinal infections.


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