AMA: Americans' Health Improving, Chronic Diseases Still Demand Action

American Medical Association President Dr. Ardis D. Hoven called a new study "a wake-up call about the need to reduce the burden of chronic disease for America's patients."

A new study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association shows Americans' health measurably improved from 1990 to 2010. In response, American Medical Association President Dr. Ardis D. Hoven said the findings also show the burden of chronic disease must be reduced.

"Doctors throughout the country are proud to partner with patients to help them live longer, healthier lives. But this study is also a wake-up call about the need to reduce the burden of chronic disease for America's patients," Hoven said, adding that AMA is focusing on "improving health outcomes for two of the nation's most troubling chronic conditions: cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

"Physicians across all specialties and in all communities see patients with heart disease and diabetes. Preventing and improving outcomes for these diseases will require new, strong clinical and community linkages. The AMA is partnering with the YMCA of the USA to increase physician referrals of patients with prediabetes to evidence-based diabetes prevention programs, and with the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins University to help meet the government's goal to bring the blood pressure of 10 million more Americans under control by 2017. The AMA is committed to working with physicians, patients, communities, and public health agencies in order to reduce the burden of preventable disease to ensure health and wellness for all Americans," she added, according to a release posted on AMA's website.

The study, "The State of US Health, 1990-2010: Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors," was published online July 10. Its authors are affiliated with universities, hospitals, and schools of medicine and public health across the country, as well as in England, Sweden, Japan, Mexico, an Australia. They set out to measure the burden of diseases, injuries, and leading risk factors in the United States from 1990 to 2010 and to compare them with those of the 34 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries.

They found U.S. life expectancy for both sexes combined increased from 75.2 years in 1990 to 78.2 years in 2010, and that the United States made substantial progress in improving health during this period. Life expectancy at birth increased, all-cause death rates at all ages decreased, and age-specific rates of years lived with disability remained stable. "However, morbidity and chronic disability now account for nearly half of the US health burden, and improvements in population health in the United States have not kept pace with advances in population health in other wealthy nations," they concluded.

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