Two-thirds of the population is chronically ill

Austrians live longer and stay healthier longer. Yet, nearly two-thirds of the population suffers from chronic diseases, according to the 2022 Health Report released today by the Ministry of Health. According to this, since 2005, women and men in Austria live an average of two and 2.9 years longer, respectively. They are staying healthy longer: men are living 7.4 and women 7.8 more years in good health than in 1991.

The first health report was published in 2016. The current one shows improvements since 2005. It refers to 2019 data, with 2020 and 2021 included in some areas.

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In 2019, 66 percent (about 4.9 million people) were affected. A permanent illness or either chronic health problem, In 2014 (data requested for 2016 report) it was 62 percent. Problems are often caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, such as not getting enough exercise Unbalanced diet and consumption of alcohol and nicotine. Among the most common Chronic diseases And health issues in Austria:

  • chronic back pain (26 percent of the population 15 years and older);
  • Allergies (20 percent),
  • Chronic neck pain (20 percent),
  • arthritis (13 percent),
  • chronic headaches (eight percent);
  • Diabetes (six percent),
  • Depression (six percent),
  • Chronic bronchitis/COPD (five percent)
  • Asthma (four percent).

100 years of key

Overall, chronic diseases mean women currently spend 19.5 years and men 16.4 years in poor health. Overall, as of 2019, boys can expect to live 63.1 years and girls 64.7 years in good health. This is an increase of more than seven years since 1991.

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© Image: APA/HELMUT FOHRINGER

Increased health literacy

According to the report, one in two people have low health literacy. Those with low income and formal education are disproportionately affected. There are particularly big challenges when dealing with digital information and moving it into the healthcare system. After all, the proportion of people with adequate health literacy has increased from 48 percent to 53 percent since 2011.

The study shows that income and education have a significant effect on health. People with less formal education or lower family income have lower life expectancy and live more years in fair or poor health. They are more likely to be chronically ill, have more restrictions in daily life and have a lower quality of life. Life expectancy for men and women with compulsory schooling is 76.7 and 82.7 years, respectively, and for those with a high school diploma or higher education qualification, life expectancy is 83.2 and 86.4 years, respectively. This disparity is mainly due to less favorable lifestyle, disadvantaged living conditions and low utilization of early detection and medical care.

Preventive tests are rarely used

Overall, life expectancy for men increased from 2.9 to 79.5 years and for women from 2.0 to 84.2 years from 2005 to 2019. Due to the corona pandemic, the life expectancy of men decreased by 0.7 years and the life expectancy of women by 0.5 years in 2020 and 2021.

Preventive tests are currently used by only 15 percent of the population—and the trend is only slightly increasing. “Health should not be a question of income. Improving the supply of doctors with statutory health insurance through health reform and investing more resources in health promotion and prevention is critical,” said Johannes Rauch, Minister of Health and Social Affairs. (Greens) in a press release on Thursday.

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