Chronic diseases (or non-communicable diseases) afflict about 24 million people in Italy. These conditions have an important impact on the quality and life expectancy of the population. These diseases affect all stages of life, although the most frequently affected segments of the population are the elderly (over 85% of people over 75 years of age suffer from chronic diseases) and women, especially after the age of 55.
It is therefore important to improve knowledge on the mechanisms and risk factors that lead to the development of chronic diseases, as well as on the possible strategies and programs for the prevention and treatment of these conditions in order to guarantee a healthy aging of the population.
In this area, the activities of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS, the National Institute of Health in Italy) develop on several fronts; from the study of risk factors for chronic diseases through surveys on the general population, in age of development, adult and elderly, to the identification of new biomarkers for early diagnosis and treatment. In addition, the ISS studies the efficacy and safety of new biomedical technologies for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, as well as monitor autoimmune and endocrine-metabolic diseases, such as diabetes mellitus, thyroid diseases and growth hormone deficiency. The ISS is also engaged in strategies and models of assistance for people with chronic diseases and on the study of the processes that lead to healthy aging, with particular attention to epidemiological aspects and to the evaluation, recovery and maintenance of motor and physical function and sensorial of the elderly. Finally, a workspace is also dedicated to Health Literacy, and to the creation of a system for sharing and standardizing indicators of the health status of the European population and in areas at risk.