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In medicine, a chronic disease is a disease that is long-lasting or recurrent. The term chronic describes the course of the disease, or its rate of onset and development. A chronic course is distinguished from a recurrent course; recurrent diseases relapse repeatedly, with periods of remission in between. As an adjective, chronic can refer to a persistent and lasting medical condition. Chronicity is usually applied to a condition that lasts more than three months.

Physical disorders

The definition of a disease or causative conditon may depend on the disease being chronic, and the term will often appear (in) the description

In health psychology emphasis is placed on helping people to come to terms with the lack of cure and to manage their condition as expert patients

Mental disorders

Many mental health difficulties can also have a chronic course with limited prognosis:

Professional help is often aimed again at improved management of the condition and its impact, once curative efforts have found their limitations.


Nearly one in two Americans (133 million) has a chronic medical condition of one kind or another.[1] However, most of these people are not actually disabled, as their medical conditions do not impair normal activities. According to this report, the most common chronic conditions are high blood pressure, arthritis, respiratory diseases like emphysema, and high cholesterol. That number is projected to increase by more than one percent per year by 2030, resulting in an estimated chronically ill population of 171 million.[2]

60% are between the ages of 18 and 64.[3] 90% of seniors have at least one chronic disease, and 77% of them have two or more chronic diseases.[4]

See also

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  1. Chronic Care in America: A 21st Century Challenge, a study of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation & Partnership for Solutions: Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (September 2004 Update). "Chronic Conditions: Making the Case for Ongoing Care"
  2. ibid
  3. ibid
  4. The Growing Burden of Chronic Disease in American, Public Health Reports / May–June 2004 / Volume 119, Gerard Anderson, PhD