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Americans Have Higher Rates of Most Chronic Diseases Than Counterparts in England

Americans Have Higher Rates of Most Chronic Diseases Than Counterparts in England

Photo: Flag of the United States and the Union Jack

Why health status differs so dramatically in these two countries, which share much in terms of history and culture, is a mystery.

The study uses data from two nationally representative surveys to compare the health of residents of the US and England from 0 to 80 years.

"A systematic assessment of cross-country differences in health by age group and type of condition provides necessary context for learning about why older residents of England suffer fewer chronic health conditions than their counterparts in the US," notes Melissa L. Martinson, Office of Population Research, Princeton University.

Health measures based on physical examinations and/or laboratory reports included the following risk factors or conditions: obesity, hypertension, diabetes, low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, high cholesterol ratio, and high C-reactive protein in addition to self-reported health issues.

Differences between the two countries are statistically significant for every condition except hypertension. Comparisons by age group indicate that most cross-country differences in health conditions and markers of disease at young ages are as large as those at older ages. This is the case for obesity, low HDL cholesterol, high cholesterol ratio, high C-reactive protein, hypertension (for females), diabetes, asthma, heart attack or angina (for females), and stroke (for females). For males, heart attack or angina is higher in the United States only at younger ages, and hypertension is higher in England than in the US at young ages.

Higher rates of screening for some conditions, greater use of certain healthcare procedures, and higher survival rates for cerebrovascular disease in the US may represent partial explanations.

The allocation of health care resources may play a role. Despite the greater use of health care technology in the US, Americans receive less preventive health care than their English counterparts. They have fewer physician consultations per year. Acute hospital visits are also shorter. It is also possible that the cross-country differences in social or physical environmental conditions or lifestyle play a role.; Source: Oxford University Press


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