The group of major chronic diseases responsible for the most deaths each year also includes all types of cancer, respiratory diseases and diabetes. In 2018, lung cancer alone caused over 1.7 million deaths, while liver cancer caused almost 782 thousand deaths. Chronic diseases are especially widespread in developed high income countries. Here, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia have become more and 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 nearly 219 million reported cases of infections of malaria all over the world, with approximately 435 thousand deaths in 2017. Most of these cases and fatalities were reported in Africa.
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 half 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.