About Chronic Conditions
Chronic conditions are health conditions or diseases that can last a year or more and may require ongoing medical treatment. They may also impact your physical health, mental well-being, daily life, and ability to do the activities you love.
Having one chronic condition may make it more likely that you develop another, especially as you grow older. In Minnesota, more than 40% of adults have at least one chronic condition, and about half of those (20% of adults) have more than one chronic condition.
Most chronic conditions can be managed so you can live a long, healthy life. Some people may still develop other health conditions, complications, or disability regardless of medical care, treatments, or lifestyle changes.
Please visit the Chronic Conditions main page to find more information on specific chronic diseases and conditions.
What causes chronic conditions?
Social determinants of health
Chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and heart disease are all tied very closely to where you live and work, your culture, and your daily activities. Factors such as being able to find and afford nutritious food, experiencing discrimination and violence, or having safe housing and transportation, quality education, and a trusted support system all contribute to your health. These factors that impact your health are known as social determinants of health.
Systemic racism and discrimination-related stress also impacts Black, American Indian, and other marginalized communities, putting them at higher risk of developing chronic conditions.
Learn more about what makes us healthy: Creating Health Equity in Minnesota.
Personal health and well-being
In addition to the social determinants that significantly affect your health, healthy behaviors also play a role. Making healthy choices as much as possible can reduce your risk of developing a chronic condition. It can also help you feel healthier, enjoy life, and live longer.
- Enjoy healthy foods. Eat meals with lean protein, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Limit sugary drinks like soda. Learn more at CDC: Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight.
- Be active. Moving your body, building muscle, and getting your heart rate up a little bit every day helps improve your overall health. Learn more at CDC: Benefits of Physical Activity.
- Quit smoking or vaping. Quitting commercial tobacco lowers your risk of heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses. Visit Quit Partner for free coaching to help you quit.
- Reduce the amount of alcohol you drink. Over time, alcohol can lead to heart disease, liver disease, digestive problems, and several types of cancer. Learn more about alcohol and your health.
- Get enough sleep and manage stress. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Visit American Heart Association: How to Get Healthy Sleep.
- Get screened. Visit a health care provider regularly to catch any health problems early so you can get treatment right away. Working with a health care team and following a treatment plan can help improve your quality of life and prevent complications.
If you already have a chronic condition, making healthy choices can help. For example, eating healthy meals and limiting sugary drinks can help you manage your diabetes. It may also help prevent you from developing chronic kidney disease or even Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
Please visit the Chronic Conditions main page to find more information on specific diseases and conditions.
Support is available
- If you need assistance buying healthy food, visit Help with Food and Groceries.
- The Health Services Directory is a list of low-cost and immigrant-friendly hospitals, clinics, organizations and services that offer dental services, disability services, domestic violence services and sexual assault services, health services, home health services, hotlines, mental health services, and vision services.
- There are several programs and organizations in Minnesota that can connect you to health care. Learn more at Guide to Health Care Resources.
- The Minnesota Department of Education has a Minnesota Family Resource Map to help families find resources near them, including low-cost health care, food and housing support, transportation, and more.
- The Minnesota Department of Human Services has information and resources to help you access health care coverage if you don't have insurance.
- Disability Hub MN is a free statewide resource network to help people with disabilities and their families get support with health care, housing, benefits, and more.
Chronic disease and COVID-19
Older adults and people of any age with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
Not everyone with COVID-19 makes a fast or full recovery. Post-COVID Conditions (also known as long COVID) can impact anyone and may make some chronic conditions worse. Learn more: Long COVID: A Post-COVID Condition.
Do what you can now to protect and improve your health so you can stay as healthy as possible if you get COVID-19. Follow recommendations at Protect Yourself and Others.
Connect with us
MDH partners with other organizations to increase prevention efforts, improve access to health care, and help Minnesotans manage their chronic conditions:
- The Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Division provides leadership for the prevention and management of chronic disease, disabilities, and injuries in Minnesota.
- The Center for Health Promotion works to build capacity for individual, community, and system change to improve health and chronic conditions, specifically arthritis, Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, asthma, cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and oral health.
- The Office of Statewide Health Improvement Initiatives (OSHII) supports all Minnesotans in leading healthier lives and building healthier communities by preventing chronic diseases before they start.
- The Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) supports community-driven solutions to expand opportunities for active living, healthy eating, and commercial tobacco-free living.
- The Center for Public Health Practice works with state and local public health partners to build capacity and improve the public health system in Minnesota.