Chronic Diseases: the Silent Killers

Introduction

Chronic diseases, also known as noncommunicable diseases or lifestyle diseases, are the leading killers and cause an unacceptable number of people to die prematurely and often after years of needless suffering and disability. Is obesity a disease? Unfortunately, this trend is increasing at a rapid pace. As per the WHO data, while in the year 2005, 60% of total deaths globally (35 million out of estimated 58 million deaths) were on account of these diseases, in the year 2012 this number jumped to 68% (38 million out of 56 million deaths) and in 2015 this figure increased to 70%. This is more than double the number of deaths from all infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria), maternal and perinatal (relating to the time immediately before and after a birth) conditions, and nutritional deficiencies combined. More than 40% of these (16 million) were premature deaths under the age of 70 years. Lifestyle diseases: the biggest man-made disaster.

Impact of Chronic Diseases

These conditions not only cause premature deaths, and enormous suffering, severely impacting the quality of life, but also threaten the economy of a country and reduce developmental potential.

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Lifestyle Diseases – the Biggest Man-Made Disaster!

Introduction

When one hears of the term ‘man-made’ disasters, the incidents that instantaneously come to mind are industrial accidents, nuclear disasters, stampedes, fires, and oil spills. No doubt these incidents have caused innumerable loss of lives and environmental damage, however, lifestyle diseases are the leading killers globally. As they are mostly caused by the ‘way we live’, they can be called the biggest man-made disaster.  Before we proceed further, let us first understand as to what are lifestyle diseases.

What are lifestyle diseases? 

Lifestyle diseases are a new breed of killer diseases that occur as a result of prolonged exposure to a set of similar risk factors. Unlike infectious diseases, they are mostly not caused by any microorganisms, and as such are not contagious. Hence, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has labelled them as noncommunicable diseases (NCD). As most NCDs are chronic – of long duration and slow progression, they are also known as chronic diseases. As the way people live plays an important role in the causation of these diseases, they are also referred to as Lifestyle diseases. Chronic diseases: the silent killers.

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