Disease - Burdens of Disease

Burdens of Disease

Disease burden is the impact of a health problem in an area measured by financial cost, mortality, morbidity, or other indicators.

There are several measures used to quantify the burden imposed by diseases on people. The years of potential life lost (YPLL) is a simple estimate of the number of years that a person's life was shortened due to a disease. For example, if a person dies at the age of 65 from a disease, and would probably have lived until age 80 without that disease, then that disease has caused a loss of 15 years of potential life. YPLL measurements do not account for how disabled a person is before dying, so the measurement treats a person who dies suddenly and a person who died at the same age after decades of illness as equivalent. In 2004, the World Health Organization calculated that 932 million years of potential life were lost to premature death.

The quality-adjusted life year (QALY) and disability-adjusted life year (DALY) metrics are similar, but take into account whether the person was healthy after diagnosis. In addition to the number of years lost due to premature death, these measurements add part of the years lost to being sick. Unlike YPLL, these measurements show the burden imposed on people who are very sick, but who live a normal lifespan. A disease that has high morbidity, but low mortality, will have a high DALY and a low YPLL. In 2004, the World Health Organization calculated that 1.5 billion disability-adjusted life years were lost to disease and injury.

Disease category Percent of all YPLLs lost, worldwide Percent of all DALYs lost, worldwide Percent of all YPLLs lost, Europe Percent of all DALYs lost, Europe Percent of all YPLLs lost, US and Canada Percent of all DALYs lost, US and Canada
Infectious and parasitic diseases, especially lower respiratory tract infections, diarrhea, AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria 37% 26% 9% 6% 5% 3%
Neuropsychiatric conditions, e.g. depression 2% 13% 3% 19% 5% 28%
Injuries, especially motor vehicle accidents 14% 12% 18% 13% 18% 10%
Cardiovascular diseases, principally heart attacks and stroke 14% 10% 35% 23% 26% 14%
Premature birth and other perinatal deaths 11% 8% 4% 2% 3% 2%
Cancer 8% 5% 19% 11% 25% 13%

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