With over six and a half million people losing their lives in about three years due to COVID-19, viral infections may seem to be the biggest threat to public health. But the latest WHO report suggests otherwise.
According to the report, presented at an event organized by the UN in partnership with the WHO and Bloomberg Philanthropies in September, along the sidelines of the General Assembly’s 77th session, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the top killers globally. 74% of all deaths worldwide are due to NCDs. In numbers, this makes about 41 million people.
Top 4 Global Killers
Of all the deaths that occur due to NCDs, more than 80% are caused by just four (groups of) diseases. These include:
1. Cardiovascular Diseases
CVDs cause a whopping 17.9 million deaths every year, making them the leading cause of death worldwide.
For those who may not know, CVDs are diseases of the heart and blood vessels. The most common of them include Coronary Artery Disease, Heart Valve Disease, Heart Arrhythmias, Cardiomyopathy (a disease of the heart muscles), Pericardial Disease (affecting the sac around your heart), Congenital Heart Disease, and Heart Failure.
Being responsible for about 9.3 million lost lives annually, cancers make the second leading cause of death worldwide. What makes the situation difficult to handle is that there are more than 200 types of cancers, with no exact cause known for them. And while many of them can be treated at the initial stages, there’s always the risk of relapse, making it a major public health challenge and a leading cause of human suffering. Of all the different types of cancers, lung cancer causes the most number of deaths, followed by colon and rectum cancer, pancreatic cancer, and breast cancer (the top four cancers that cause the most deaths).
Although the exact causes of most cancers aren’t known, healthcare experts assert that about 30% to 50% of cases are preventable.
3. Chronic Respiratory Diseases
Chronic Respiratory Diseases, or CRDs, is an umbrella term for conditions that affect the lungs and airways. Its most common types include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, occupational lung disease, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, sleep apnea, and lung cancer. Frequent respiratory infections during childhood, pollution, excessive exposure to harmful chemicals, and tobacco use are some of the biggest risk factors for chronic respiratory diseases.
According to the latest WHO report, CRDs cause about 4.1 million deaths globally every year.
Diabetes is an incurable disease that costs two million lives every year. It may seem like a harmless disease (particularly in comparison to the three others on the list), but it’s a major cause of kidney failure, stroke, heart attacks, limb (leg) amputation, and blindness.
The Final Word
Many non-communicable diseases cannot be permanently cured, but they can be prevented and managed with behavioral modifications and a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, it’s important for everyone to address their risk factors in a timely manner with the help of a healthcare expert.
Don’t leave yourself exposed to these top killers. Take charge of your health to put up a strong fight against these threats to live a quality life.