The Most Common Health Issues the Average American Will Face in Their Lifetime

You’re going to have to die of something eventually. Debilitating diseases don’t have to be your downfall, though. If you live in the U.S., you’ll likely experience one or more of these health issues firsthand. Here’s what you have to look forward to — and what you might be able to do to prevent illness¬†and live a longer, healthier life.


radiologist looking at cancer on a screen

Cancer is, unfortunately, becoming more and more common. | Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images

At the beginning of 2017, experts estimated that new cancer diagnoses would near 2 million in the U.S. According to the National Cancer Institute, risk factors for the development of many types of cancer include alcohol overuse, age, chronic inflammation, obesity, poor diet, and more. There is no miracle food that can cure cancer or stop it from happening. However, living an active lifestyle, eating a balanced diet, and monitoring your alcohol consumption are all things you can start doing today to decrease your risk.

Blood poisoning

doctor doing blood work on a patient

This scary condition is one you should know about. | Picsfive/iStock/Getty Images

Sepsis, or blood poisoning, may affect over a million Americans annually, says the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. Cases are on the rise, probably because people with chronic diseases are living longer than they used to — conditions where sepsis is more common. Antibiotic resistance could also be to blame, since fewer bacterial infections are treatable. Officials are working on ways to help you avoid this potentially fatal condition.

Alzheimer’s disease

brain and label to indicate Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer’s is more prevalent than you think. |

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, this condition is the 6th leading cause of death in America. By 2050, over 16 million older adults could be living with the disease. Is it preventable? The National Institute on Aging says regular exercise — both physical and mental — might be able to delay onset or decrease your risk altogether. Drinking less alcohol and sleeping more might also help.

Type 2 diabetes

young man using lancelet on finger

You can prevent this disease with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. |

When your body can no longer regulate its own blood sugar, a doctor will diagnose a patient with Type 2 diabetes. It’s estimated that over 8 million Americans might have diabetes without knowing it, Healthline says. You’re more likely to develop the condition if you’re older, overweight, or genetically predisposed to insulin resistance. Here’s what you can start doing right now to lower your diabetes risk.

Heart disease

Woman having heart attack symptoms

This disease is the leading cause of death — do you know the signs? |

The American Heart Association says heart disease is the leading cause of death among both men and women in the U.S. It’s estimated to be responsible for 1 in every 7 deaths nationwide. You can live with heart disease for a long time, but there is no cure, and it usually isn’t reversible. It affects both the young and old, physically active, and chronically sedentary. However, exercising, eating a healthy diet, and attending regular checkups with your doctor can all help delay and even prevent its onset.


X-ray image of a person holding their head with the brain lit up

Strokes are incredibly common, and your high stress levels aren’t helping. |

A stroke occurs when a blockage prevents oxygen from getting to your brain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that on average, someone in the U.S. has a stroke every 40 seconds — and someone dies of stroke every four minutes. High blood pressure and many other chronic conditions significantly increase your stroke risk. Diet, exercise, stress management, and more can help you avoid having a stroke at any age.


woman unable to button her pants

Obesity puts you at greater risk for plenty of deadly diseases. | Voyagerix/iStock/Getty Images Plus

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, over 1 in 3 American adults lived with obesity in 2014. Women showed a higher prevalence of obesity at that time than men. Risk factors range from unhealthy lifestyle behaviors to chronic sleep deprivation to genetics. Obesity increases your risk for many of the health issues summarized above. This is why many professionals focus on weight control to help individuals avoid other devastating conditions.