Diseases are adverse health conditions which impact the overall well-being of an individual and can occur by "Chance" or "Choice". Illnesses can occur due to multiple factors; faulty genes, improper toxins, occupational exposure and pressures, etc. The basic human life has two primary aspects today - Personal and Professional. The thirst to succeed in all the sub-facets of these two primary causes for living has ended up becoming too costly today. Infections like tuberculosis, chicken pox, small pox, dengue, malaria, fever and today even zika virus disease continue to unleash their wrath on humans. The cause for many of these is generally well- deciphered and most occur due to our inherent habit to spread filth, take basic sanitation for granted, jeopardising the safety and well-being of the entire society as a whole. What we fail to understand is any of these infectious communicable ailments can easily affect an entire locality or region with ease only because of our casual attitude and misconstrued preferences. These communicable ailments continue to grip many parts of the developing nations even today with fear, while the developed continue to maintain an advanced management radar
Right opposite at the other end of the spectrum are the non-communicable ailments. From an era wherein terms like epidemic and pandemic were limited to only infectious conditions; today the non-communicable ones are giving a tough competition to the former in terms of a tremendous spike in their numbers. In this article, let us try to understand the latter segment in detail: to identify if there is a reprieve or do we purely sign off to our fate?
Lifestyle Diseases - Makes The World Lament Lifestyle choices have become a numero uno mark for many to flaunt their success in life and characterised by traits like junk and binge eating, smoking, drinking couch potato syndrome, etc. These choices made by self has fueled the development of a new genre of adverse health conditions; lifestyle diseases.
As the name suggests, illnesses which grip the human body because of the lifestyle choices we make fall under this category and are also non-communicable. Also, one another stark feature of these disorders is their ability to affect any human being world over without barriers of geography, race, ethnicity, region or religion. Though the risk factors for many of these illnesses also harbour in our DNA, the trigger to their early onslaught and unmanageable extremes in appearance is definitely contributed by our environment and choices - diet, physical exercise, occupational aspects, etc.
The spectrum of lifestyle diseases have captured the entire world today and have become the most desirable area for scientific research to understand the impact and interaction of genes and environment in the trigger Research of this magnitude has aided in developing intricate knowledge on the effect of diet on genes (nutrigenomics). Today, geneties also aids in identifying inherent risk factors and determining therapeutic efficacy. Handling the burden of lifestyle diseases has become a trying need of today's era as their global load is increasing at an alarming rate, significantly damaging the existing healthcare fabric of the country.
Popular Ones - Grip And Afflict A WHO report on profile of non-communicable diseases country-wise highlighted cancer, respiratory diseases and heart diseases to top the chart accounting for 38 million deaths globally, of which 28 million were solely contributed by the low and middle income nations including India. Also, economic predictions highlighted lifestyle diseases to single handedly cost the Indian economy S237 billion by 2015. Let us understand few most popular ones affecting us as a race and a geographical entity
Cardiovascular diseases: Predictions state - 1 in 10 Indians will die due to heart attack! This has emerged to be the top contender among others to be responsible for causing maximum mortality globally as well as in India. In the year 2014 out of the 3 million deaths due to this condition, over 25% occurred in the age group of 20 - 70 years. Also, the prevalence of coronary artery diseases is postulated to be 12% in urban and 7% in the rural areas, respectively. Genetically Indians have been shown to be susceptible to harbouring high cholesterol levels and diabetes; and coupled with the lifestyle choices have resulted in epidemic proportions being affected. Other associated conditions include atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, etc.
Diabetes: Predictions state - India to house 80 million diabetics by 2030!
Another contender racing to catch up to the no.1 position in terms of mortality rates is - Diabetes! India houses the highest number of diabetics; roughly 30 million and growing daily. Type 1, an autoimmune condition and type 2, an insulin-malfunction condition have become a possible threat for every human life. Studies highlight the nutritional status of Indian ancestors to be the major causative factor apart from the fuelling lifestyle choices. Generations of malnourishment and undernutrition status coupled with rapid changes in lifestyle habits have led to a surge in the number of affected by metabolic disorders. Every biochemical activity is coded in our DNA and the sudden increased calorie surge has caused severe alterations and shock at the epigenetic level causing development of obesity. Also, few genetic triggers for type 2 diabetes have been identified which makes Indians and South Asians more prone than their European counterparts. Lack of exercise, poor eating habits and stress are the manageable triggers here.
Obesity: Fact - The frequency of obesity affected is increasing at 33-51% every year in India! India is ranked to be the third most obese country in the world. Characterised by a Body Mass Index of over 30 kg/mo, studies highlight the worrying fact wherein none of the affected countries have been able to control the increase in obese population for the last three decades. Joint disorders like osteoarthritis, blood sugar, heart disease, etc. become the unwelcomed alliances. Reliance on processed foods rich in trans-fat and sugar have become responsible for the high prevalence of abdominal obesity.
Cancer: Fact - A 7.5% increase in the number of cancer affected Indians due to poor lifestyle habits! A time when research highlighted certain cancers to have a familial/genetic predisposition, few in the killer category zone have risen to become lifestyle associated. Cancer of the breast and colon have been linked to obesity, while consumption of tobacco and high salt diet has been linked as a risk factor for cancers of the tongue, oral and gastrointestinal. Obesity and lack of exercise have been linked to 13 different types of cancers. The fact that cancer has been now included as a lifestyle diseases emphasises the fact that prevention is a possibility by making healthy choices. On the economic front also the chances of cancer causing an extremely devastating expenditure is 160%, pushing the families of many
World's highest numbers of oral, cervix, pharynx and gallbladder cancers have been associated with India.
Others include the occupational nazards fueled by stress, heat, sound, dust, fumes, pollutants, etc, which cause respiratory failure and increased risk of stroke, adverse lung conditions, etc. For e.g.: Chronie Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Certain factors can also disturb our biological clock causing irritability, mood swings, fatigue, etc. weakening our immune system and welcoming onboard many other complications. Cirrhosis due to excess alcohol consumption fueled by peer pressure or hepatitis infection also claim thousands of lives each year.
Indians - Serendipitous and Susceptible A report in a popular news daily postulates 25% Indians to die of lifestyle diseases before 70 years of age Reports highlight death of roughly 5.8 million Indians every year due to ailments like stroke, cancer, diabetes, heart diseases, etc. Another report has projected death of roughly 7 million Indians by the year 2020, solely due to lifestyle diseases, Healthcare professionals voice out lack of awareness to be the major cause apart from the general tendency of the market to be sick care oriented which ends up adding a huge burden on the existing infrastructure, especially when dealing with the noncommunicable illnesses. Indians consider hospitalisation expenses to be a major affair in life which can be covered by insurance and routine preventive healthcare checks are not necessary. What is missed here is the pure fact that apart from preventive health checks being light on the pocket, have an added tax benefit, can secure a healthy and stress- free future.
The question arises, are Indians as a race more susceptible to many of these lifestyle diseases? Well...one reason for increased cardiovascular conditions in India has been attributed to the size of coronaries in Indians as compared to the Caucasians. The coronaries in the former are narrow is compared to the latter leading to easy blockage and with an unhealthy diet, it occurs even faster at a younger age.
Begin for a healthy end! Begin for a health Research has shown simple lifestyle modifications can reduce the risk of heart diseases by 80% and cancer by 40%. Over 100 million people in India are postulated to carry high blood pressure and two of three working individuals are affected by stress. These two coupled together account to be the causative factor for > 50% heart diseases. Studies highlight countries like Brazil, Russia, India and China to lose more than 20 millionproductive years per year due to lifestyle diseases. India has a National Programme for Prevention and Control of Diabetes, Cardiovascular disease and Stroke initiated
With so many proven statisties in hand, is it not the need of the hour to tighten our laces and strengthen our inner resolve to fight out conditions which continue to threaten our very peaceful existence! Awareness; the only limiting key and our attitude towards preventive health checks; the biggest deterrent to heal. Resolution towards inclusion of an active lifestyle, healthy diet and abomination towards societal class norms pertaining to habits like smoking, drinking as well as substance abuse needs to be kicked in. Human lives are but limited and hence begin today to have a stress-free end!