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Friday, February 13, 2015

Noncommunicable Diseases

A non-communicable disease, or NCD, is a medical condition or disease that can be defined as non-infectious and non-transmissible among people. NCDs can refer to chronic diseases which last for long periods of time and progress slowly. Sometimes, NCDs result in rapid deaths such as seen in certain types of diseases such as autoimmune diseases, heart diseases, stroke, most cancers, asthma, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's disease, cataracts, and many more. While sometimes (incorrectly) referred to it as synonymous with "chronic diseases", NCDs are distinguished only by their non-infectious cause, not necessarily by their duration. Some chronic diseases of long duration, such as HIV/AIDS, are caused by transmittable infections. Chronic diseases require chronic care management as do all diseases that are slow to develop and of long duration.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports NCDs to be by far the leading cause of death in the world, representing over 60% of all deaths. Out of the 36 million people who died from NCDs in 2005, half were under age 70 and half were women. Of the 57 million global deaths in 2008, 36 million were due to NCDs. That is approximately 63% of total deaths worldwide. Risk factors such as a person's background, lifestyle and environment are known to increase the likelihood of certain NCDs. Every year, at least 5 million people die because of tobacco use and about 2.8 million die from being overweight. High cholesterol accounts for roughly 2.6 million deaths and 7.5 million die because of high blood pressure.

Causes and Risk Factor

Risk factors such as a person's background; lifestyle and environment are known to increase the likelihood of certain non-communicable diseases. They include age, gender, genetics, exposure to air pollution, and behaviors such as smoking, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity which can lead to hypertension and obesity, in turn leading to increased risk of many NCDs. Most NCDs are considered preventable because they are caused by modifiable risk factors.

The WHO's World Health Report 2002 identified five important risk factors for non-communicable disease in the top ten leading risks to health. These are raised blood pressure, raised cholesterol, tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and overweight.The other factors associated with higher risk of NCDs include a person's economic and social conditions, also known as the "[social determinants of health]."

It has been estimated that if the primary risk factors were eliminated, 80% of the cases of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes and 40% of cancers could be prevented. Interventions targeting the main risk factors could have a significant impact on reducing the burden of disease worldwide. Efforts focused on better diet and increased physical activity have been shown to control the prevalence of NCDs

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