• The World Health Organisation (WHO)
estimates that over 35 million people per year die
of chronic disease, which is about 60 per cent of
all deaths, and double the number dying from all
infectious diseases, maternal and perinatal (Five
months prior to birth and one month after)
• Globally and in the Caribbean, the
chronic diseases of concern are heart disease,
stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory
diseases. These are caused by biological factors
such as high blood pressure, obesity, high blood
sugar, and high blood cholesterol.
• In Latin America and the Caribbean
(LAC), chronic diseases are now the leading cause of
premature mortality, accounting for nearly half of
deaths of persons under 70 years, and for two out of
three deaths overall.
• The Caribbean is the Region of the
Americas worst affected by the epidemic of chronic
disease. The human and economic cost burden of these
conditions is not sustainable and could undermine
the development of these small, fragile countries.
• The chronic diseases of greatest
importance in the Americas Region are:
cardiovascular disease (including hypertension,
ischaemic heart disease and stroke), cancer, chronic
respiratory diseases and diabetes.
• Chronic diseases contributed to almost 50 per
cent of disability-adjusted life years lost in the
• In the first decade of the 21st
century, cardiovascular diseases are expected to
claim 20.7 million lives in the Americas .
Predictions for the next 20 years include a tripling
of heart disease and stroke mortality in Latin
• Hypertension is one of the most
important risk factors for heart disease and affects
8-30 per cent of the population.
• Cancer accounts for 20 per cent of
chronic disease mortality and in 2002, there were an
estimated 459,000 deaths due to cancer , a 33 per
cent increase since 1990, with major increases
projected to 2020. 35 million people in the Region
are currently affected by diabetes, and the WHO
forecasts an increase to 64 million by 2025 .
• Heart diseases, stroke, cancer,
diabetes are the main causes of death in the
• Diabetes and hypertension
contribute significantly to heart disease and stroke
• Diabetes is a major cause of
admissions to hospital, kidney failure, blindness
and limb amputations
• Risk factors include obesity,
smoking, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and
• Over one billion people are
overweight or obese in the world today.
• Tobacco consumption is the single
leading risk for avoidable death in the Americas,
causing over one million deaths each year.
Approximately one-third of all deaths from heart
disease and cancer can be attributed to tobacco
• The societal costs of diabetes in
Latin America and the Caribbean were estimated at
$US65 billion in 2000.