Increase in chronic conditions in older people identified in study

The number of older people in England living with more than one chronic condition could have risen by ten per cent in the last decade putting increasing pressure on the NHS, new research has suggested.

NIHR-funded researchers have found more older people now have at least one chronic disease, adding further strain on health budgets amid a rise in long-term conditions and people living longer.

The study, which examined more than 15,000 people in England over ten years, showed there was an increasing trend in people aged over 50 developing a second or third disease. It also found that people who were physically active were healthier.

The percentage of older people with multiple conditions, including Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis, steadily increased from 31.7 per cent in 2002/03 to 43.1 per cent in 2012/13, according to the article published in the online journal the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. The proportion of older people without a chronic condition decreased over the same period from 33.9 per cent to 26.8 per cent, researchers also found.

The study was carried out by researchers at the Leicester Diabetes Centre and funded by the NIHR Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity BRU and NIHR CLAHRC East Midlands.

The Leicester Diabetes Centre is an international centre of excellence in diabetes research, education and innovation led by Professor Khunti and Professor Melanie Davies. It is a partnership between the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and the University of Leicester.