Australians have a lot to be proud of when it comes to health. The country’s average life expectancy is one of the highest in the world; far fewer people are smoking than twenty years ago; and overall alcohol consumption has fallen to its lowest level in 50 years. Pat on the back, Australia.
Yet despite this good news, there is still a lot that can be done to improve our overall health. This is especially true of chronic conditions — the leading cause of ill health and mortality in Australia — which accounted for 9 in every 10 Australian deaths in 2015. This far-reaching impact is reflected around the world, with chronic conditions taking the highest toll on human life globally.
Many of these conditions can be grouped into four major disease groups: cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) and diabetes. However more broadly, the term ‘chronic illness’ refers to a wide spectrum of conditions which are generally long-term, and often become more prevalent with age.
What’s the status-quo on chronic conditions?
According to data from the Medibank Better Health Index (MBHI), the most common chronic conditions reported amongst Australians from 2017 - 2018 were arthritis, followed by mental health issues including depression and anxiety, and asthma.