Chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease are rising in the United States. A new study says about one in 10 adults in the country suffer from multiple cardiac, renal or metabolic (CRM) conditions, and one in four report at least one.
The study, published in JAMA Cardiology, showed the percentage of U.S. adults with multiple CRM conditions has risen from 5.3% in 1999 to 8% in 2020, while those with three CRM conditions increased from 0.7% to 1.5%.
The risk also increases with age as one in three adults aged 65 or older had a CRM condition, whereas one in four reported having overlapping conditions. The conditions are the leading cause of illness and death in the U.S. They account for one in three fatalities in the country, researchers said.
The study not only highlights the alarming rise in these conditions over the last 20 years but also emphasizes the immediate need for action to address the situation.
While there are medications available to tackle the root causes of co-existing CRM conditions, it’s concerning that they’re not being prescribed or taken as often as they should be, researchers said.
The research team studied health data collected from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between January 2015 and March 2020 to determine the prevalence of CRM conditions in the U.S. and compared them with data collected between 1999 and 2002. They analyzed the data of 11,607 non-pregnant adults above the age of 20.
The burden was greatest among non-Hispanic Black people, unemployed or people with low socioeconomic status or lower education.
It was found that between 2015 and 2020, 26.3% had at least one CRM condition, 8% had two, and 1.5% had three. The most common comorbid conditions were type 2 diabetes with chronic kidney disease (3.2%), cardiovascular disease with type 2 diabetes (1.7%) and cardiovascular disease with chronic kidney disease (1.6%).
Among those with three CRM conditions, approximately one-third (30.5%) didn’t use statins, only 4.8% used weight loss and diabetes medication (GLP1 agonists) and just 3% took medication for high blood sugar (SGLT2 inhibitors).
“Newer medications like GLP1 agonists — for example, semaglutide — and SGLT2 inhibitors which have been found to improve these conditions are very expensive and were found to be prescribed at a very low rate in this study,” Dr. David Cutler, a board-certified family medicine physician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in California, told Healthline.
He noted that disparities in healthcare access can lead to delayed treatment and worse outcomes.
Previous studies have shown that heart, kidney and metabolic functions are connected to each other and share the same risk factors such as hypertension, low or high blood sugar levels, cholesterol imbalance and obesity. Problems within one system of the body can lead to the dysfunction of others, potentially resulting in the development of multiple health morbidities.
Metabolic disorders and obesity can be influenced by diet and a lack of physical activity. Other factors, including stress, genetics, age and access to healthcare, also play a role, Dr. Cutler, who was not part of the study, explained.
The findings highlight the importance of collaborative and comprehensive management strategies to improve the situation and advance public health initiatives. This includes promoting healthier lifestyles, improving healthcare accessibility and increasing awareness about risk factors and early detection.
Published by Medicaldaily.com