Chronic diseases are also known as non-communicable diseases since they are not passed from person to person. They tend to be of long duration and are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental, and behaviours factors.1 Each year, chronic diseases are responsible for approximately 71% of all deaths globally.1 In Middlesex-London, chronic diseases made up nine of the top ten leading causes of death from 2013 to 2015.
A goal of public health units in Ontario is “to reduce the burden of chronic diseases of public health importance and improve well-being.” According to the Ministry of Health, chronic diseases of public health importance include—but are not limited to—cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, dementia, and mental illness.2
Some factors that influence the risk for chronic diseases cannot be controlled, such as age, sex, and genetics. However, the adoption of healthy living behaviours—such as healthy eating, abstaining from smoking, limiting alcohol use, and living an active lifestyle—can help to prevent the occurrence of or reduce the burden associated with chronic diseases.3
People of all age groups can be at risk for chronic disease, but they are often associated with older age groups.1 Rates of emergency department (ED) visits and/or hospitalizations increased with age for diseases such as ischaemic heart disease, diabetes, dementia (including Alzheimer’s Disease), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in Middlesex-London from 2006 to 2018. In contrast, a different trend was observed with asthma where rates of ED visits were highest among those age 19 and under.
Incidence rates of cancer (i.e., the number of new cases) decreased slightly over time for Middlesex-London from 2011 to 2014. Breast cancer had the highest incidence rates for females, while prostate cancer had the highest incidence for males. Lung cancer was the third leading cause of death in Middlesex-London from 2013 to 2015. For some cancers, screening increases the chances of detecting the cancer before it has the chance to grow and spread.
In Middlesex-London, approximately 1 in 10 residents reported having a mood disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder, mania, or dysthymia in 2015/16. The same proportion reported having an anxiety disorder such as a phobia, an obsessive-compulsive disorder, or a panic disorder in 2015/16.
From 2006 to 2018, rates of ED visits and hospitalizations in Middlesex-London for diseases such as ischemic heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, were higher among the rural population compared to the urban population, and among males compared to females. Death rates due to cancer, respiratory disease, and cardiovascular disease, were also higher among these two groups (i.e., rural population and males).
1. World Health Organization. Noncommunicable Diseases [2018 Jun 1]. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2018 [cited 2019 Sep 23]. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/noncommunicable-diseases
2. Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Ontario Public Health Standards: Requirements for Programs, Services, and Accountability [Internet]. Toronto, ON: Queen's Printer for Ontario, 2018 [cited 2019 Jul 30]. Available from: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/pro/programs/publichealth/oph_standards
3. Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Chronic Disease Prevention Guideline, 2018 [Internet]. Toronto, ON: Queen's Printer for Ontario; 2018 [cited 2019 Sep 23]. Available from: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/pro/programs/publichealth/oph_standards
Last modified on: November 18, 2019