If you are a fan of medical dramas, you must know all about lethal and rare diseases. From sleeping sickness disease to the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, it seems that television characters often contract one rare disease or the other.
But the reality is very different than fiction, as rare diseases are not very common in real life. Furthermore, most global fatalities are due to chronic diseases. Quotidian diseases such as diabetes and chronic heart disease cause the most fatalities per annum. Indeed, research suggests that 55.4 million deaths in 2019 were due to chronic diseases.
Two fundamental distinctions of diseases:
There are two fundamental categories of diseases, infectious and incommunicable diseases. Infectious diseases are those that are infectious and parasitic. They can spread from one person to another person. Comparatively, incommunicable conditions are those that are non-transmissible.
Are non-infectious diseases more fatal compared to infectious diseases?
Statistically speaking, 70% of global deaths are due to non-communicable diseases or chronic diseases. Therefore, the majority of these deaths are preventable. Timely access to preventive care reduces the risk of contracting a deadly disease. Furthermore, some lifestyle changes can also reduce the risk of contracting a fatal non-communicable disease. But particularly dangerous strands of viral illnesses can also cause widespread deaths and a public health epidemic. A case in point is the COVID-19 pandemic that has wreaked havoc and destruction on the world.
Why is it necessary to record fatality rates on different diseases?
It is vital to talk about why people die to plan how to save their lives. By measuring how many deaths occur each year, we can direct much-needed resources to areas that sorely need them. Such data can provide groundbreaking insights for policymaking in the healthcare sector. Most importantly, this data can guide the population on preventative measures to decrease the risk of contracting lethal diseases. We must try to learn the lessons from our present to prevent unnecessary death and suffering.
Now that we have highlighted the value in talking about the deadliest diseases, let’s read about 5 of them in detail:
- Coronary artery disease: This is the deadliest disease in the world. It occurs when blood vessels that supply the heart with blood become constricted. Heart failure and arrhythmias are both diseases that may develop due to coronary artery disease. According to data collected by WHO, heart disease causes 16% of the global annual deaths. Over the years, the rate of deaths due to heart disease has only increased. Research suggests that death rates have risen by 6.9 million over 20 years. However, better public health education and access to healthcare can improve the situation. Furthermore, lifestyle changes can also decrease the risk of contracting this disease. Leading a healthy and active lifestyle can prevent Coronary Artery Disease.
- Stroke: A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted. Resultantly, your brain cells begin to die at an exponential rate, and you cannot perform the fundamental bodily functions. Strokes often lead to long-term disability when left untreated for too long. According to WHO, strokes cause 11% of total global deaths per annum. Fortunately, timely medical treatment can reduce the chance of a fatality. But a complete risk assessment is necessary to get timely medical intervention. People with some characteristics are more predisposed to stroke compared to others. Females with an African-American heritage have a higher risk of stroke. Preventative care medications and lifestyle changes can reduce risk factors for strokes.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: A long term progressive disease, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) claims 5.6% of global deaths. COPD diminishes the quality of life by making breathing difficult. People suffering from COPD cannot even perform basic tasks. Some risk factors make people more prone to COPD. These include smoking, inhaling lung irritants, and having a family history of respiratory diseases. Sadly, there is no cure for COPD, but timely medical intervention can increase patient outlook. Medication can also slow down the progression of the disease.
- Lower Respiratory Infections: An infection of the lungs or the airways is called a lower respiratory condition. It can develop because of viruses from the flu, tuberculosis, pneumonia, or bronchitis. Lower respiratory infections cause 5.7% of global annual deaths. Breathlessness, coughing, and wheezing are just a few common symptoms of lower respiratory infections. Taking regular flu shots is the best way to prevent lower respiratory infections. Furthermore, proper hand hygiene can prevent the transmission of viruses and bacteria.
- Diabetes: More than 2.8% of the average annual deaths are due to diabetes. It is a long-term disease that prevents your body from producing insulin. Therefore, your body can no longer digest the sugar in food. There are two kinds of diabetes; Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. Although the cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown, however, genes may play a role in some cases. Comparatively, Type 2 diabetes stems from genetics and an unhealthy lifestyle. Obese people are more prone to type 2 diabetes. While the disease is non-preventable, patients can manage it through a fit and healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise and a balanced diet can control blood sugar.
According to data, people are living longer compared to 20 years ago. However, with longer lifespans comes a higher risk of developing chronic diseases. Fortunately, lifestyle changes can prevent some of the most lethal diseases. Exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet are both vital to a happy and fulfilling life. Furthermore, good personal hygiene is the primary way to prevent infection and stop the spread.