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More than half of Irish people over 50 have two or more chronic diseases

This number is likely to rise dramatically by the end of this decade, a conference on public health heard yesterday.

Image: diabetes image via Shutterstock

MORE THAN HALF of our over 50s are currently living with two or more chronic diseases and this figure is likely to rise dramatically by the end of this decade.

This is according to experts at a conference hosted yesterday by the Institute of Public Health (IPH). Olga McDaid, of IPH, told the conference that 53.8 per cent of people aged 50 and over in Ireland are living with two or more chronic conditions – multimorbidity – such as diabetes, stroke or coronary heart disease.

She said that data from the Longitudinal Study on Ageing in Ireland (TILDA) shows the number of people living with multimorbidity is significant and likely to increase dramatically by the end of this decade due to our growing and ageing population.

Fragmented care

“The increasing number of patients with multimorbidity represents a real challenge for the health services,” she told the conference.

Visits to GP surgeries and hospitals for outpatient and inpatient services are likely to increase. In addition, these patients’ needs are complex and international experience has shown that health services have struggled to cope with these patients’ needs and their care has tended to be quite fragmented.

McDaid told the conference that another challenge is that the causes of multimorbidity are still unknown and that’s why more research is needed in this area, as well as a focus on the consequences for people who have two or more chronic diseases.

“Such research would also help us to design effective programmes to prevent or delay the onset of multimorbidity in later life and plan how we shape the appropriate provision of health services to meet this growing challenge,” she added.

Read: No plans to revise scheme for chronic illness – despite no update since 1970s>

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