Older people often suffer from multiple diseases

04/12/2009 15:00

Chronic diseases are often accompanied by other long-lasting disorders, especially in older people. People with chronic arthritis nearly always suffer from at least one and often more than one other chronic diseases.

Nearly half of the population have chronic diseases

Nearly half of the population have a chronic disease. This proportion is increasing with age. In the population aged 75 and older, 4 in every 5 individuals suffer from one or more chronic diseases.

People often have concurrent chronic diseases (multi-morbidity). This applies to nearly a quarter of the population and increases with advancing age. In the 65 to 75-year-old population, 46 percent have two or more chronic disorders; 57 percent of over-75s have more than one chronic disease.

Number of chronic diseases by age, 2001/2008

Number of chronic diseases by age, 2001/2008

One quarter of over-75s have four or more chronic diseases

Some people have to cope with multiple chronic diseases. Altogether, 6 percent of the Dutch population suffer from at least four chronic disorders. This is rarely found in children, whereas nearly a quarter of over-75s have four or more chronic diseases.

Chronic arthritis patients often suffer from other chronic diseases as well

Chronic arthritis, stroke, heart condition and constriction of the blood vessels are most common in combination with other diseases. These are indeed diseases frequently found in older people. Chronic eczema, asthma and migraine are diseases, which are relatively common in the younger and middle-aged population and more often occur in isolation, although more than half of these patients suffer from multiple chronic disorders.

People with at least one other chronic disorder by type of disorder, 2001/2008

People with at least one other chronic disorder by type of disorder, 2001/2008

Combinations of back problems and pain in the back of the neck, hypertension and degradation of the joints, migraine and pain in the back of the neck, back problems and degradation of the joints and degradation of the joints in combination with pain in the back of the neck are most frequently found. 

Jan-Willem Bruggink