Around 15 million people in England have a long-term health condition (LTC), such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Often referred to as ‘lifestyle’ diseases – so-called because they are usually driven by poor diet, smoking, lack of exercise or alcohol – account for 70% of UK spending on health and care.
Their debilitating effects usually have a major impact on family life, work, education and finances.
What are long-term health conditions?
What causes long-term health conditions?
Who suffers from long-term conditions?
What is the impact on the NHS?
Patients with LTCs are also two-to-three times more likely to have depression than the rest of the population, and seven times more likely if they have three or more conditions. This situation isn’t sustainable for patients or the NHS.
What can be done?
There are a number of things you can do to prevent ‘flare-ups’ or slow the progression of conditions.
For example, giving up smoking after you’ve been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) slows its progression, helps you maintain remaining lung function and helps to avoid chest infections, which can be fatal.
Improved lifestyle choices can also help to prevent cancer from returning and reduce the chance of a second heart attack or stroke.
People can also effectively manage type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure by losing weight (if necessary), eating a healthier diet and doing more exercise.
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