Chronic Diseases

What are chronic diseases?

Chronic diseases are long-term diseases that develop slowly over time, often progressing in severity, and can often be controlled, but rarely cured. They include conditions such as heart disease and stroke, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, back problems, asthma, and chronic depression.

How common is chronic disease?

Chronic diseases contribute to 7 out of 10 deaths in the NWT, with cancer and heart disease being the top two causes that contributes to close to half of all deaths. With an aging population, the burden of chronic disease is expected to grow. Chronic diseases common to the Northwest Territories and increasing in number include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, hypertension and mood disorders.

How can you reduce your risk of developing chronic disease?

You can reduce your risk of developing chronic disease by making healthy lifestyle choices such as what you eat, being active, and limiting use of tobacco and alcohol. Stress management and a healthy mind are also beneficial to lowering the risk of developing chronic disease.

You can also be screened for certain chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Screening picks up disease early in its course when it is more treatable or has less impact on your health.

Since the  onset and type of screening may differ based on age, gender and family history you  should  talk to your health care provider to find out what screening you can have.

The Let’s Talk About Cancer website provides a variety of resources for NWT cancer patients and their families.

For those struggling with stress management; suicidal thoughts; or depression. the NWT Help Line offers confidential support to residents of the Northwest Territories, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The help line also has an option for follow-up calls.  Residents can call the help line at 1-800-661-0844.

For information on diseases and conditions, including chronic diseases, visit the Government of Canada’s website:

For specific information related to diabetes and heart disease, visit the following links: