Non-communicable Diseases - Types and Prevention

Table of Content:

What does NCD mean?

“NCD full form – Non-communicable Disease”

Non-communicable diseases are non-infectious in nature and thus do not spread like communicable diseases. Most NCDs are chronic and last for a longer period of time. NCDs account for approximately 71% of global deaths. Furthermore, these deaths are concentrated in middle and low-income countries. The four major death-causing NCDs are –

  1. Cardiovascular Diseases
  2. Cancer
  3. Respiratory Diseases
  4. Diabetes

The NCDs may occur due to lifestyle as well as genetic factors. Thus, some of them are also termed lifestyle diseases. The risk factors for NCDs are mostly poor diet, lack of exercise, inadequate sleep, smoking, alcohol consumption and stress.

Let’s have a detailed look at the two types of NCDs and the risk factors.

NCD-Non-communicable Disease

Lifestyle Diseases

Lifestyle diseases, like hypertension, diabetes, cancer, heart diseases, and stroke are a part of non-communicable diseases (NCD). Mental health diseases like trauma and depression are also included under this. Various physiological factors, along with improper diet and exercise, are a major cause of most NCDs.

Physiological Factors

  • Blood Pressure
  • Cholesterol
  • Blood Glucose
  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Overweight or Obesity

Behavioural Factors

  • Sedentary Lifestyle
  • Unbalanced Diet
  • Stress
  • Tobacco and Alcohol

People of all ages, gender and region are prone to these risk factors. In this, the behavioural factors are modifiable with proper lifestyle changes.

Hypertension

Hypertension is a sustained increase of systemic arterial blood pressure, typically more than 150/90 mm Hg. Essential or primary hypertension is seen in 90% of total hypersensitive individuals. In most persons, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle appear to play a major role in causing essential hypertension. This is treatable but not curable. The high salt content in canned and packaged foods can also lead to hypertension. Thus, it can be prevented with a proper diet and lifestyle.

In the early stages of hypertension, an increase in stress states (exercise, excitement, emotions, etc.) can be observed. In late stages, it can also lead to renal failure and cardiac complications.

Cardiovascular disease

The term denotes a group of disorders associated with the blood vessels and heart. Cardiovascular diseases include rheumatic heart disease, coronary heart disease, heart failure, heart attack, stroke, etc. The main reason is the blockage of blood vessels supplying the brain or heart. This blockage is caused due to fat deposits in the walls of blood vessels. Heart attack and stroke are the major NCDs and are usually acute events. Strokes are caused by blood clots or bleeding from the blood vessel.

Most cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by healthy eating, limiting alcohol intake, exercising, avoiding tobacco, etc. Treating high blood lipids, high blood pressure and diabetes can also prevent cardiovascular diseases. Genetics is also a risk factor for certain cardiac diseases.

Also check other lifestyle diseases like –

Genetic Diseases

Genetic diseases are also NCDs that are caused due to abnormalities in genes or chromosomes. These errors can be either inherited or caused by mutations. Haemophilia, thalassemia, and muscular dystrophy are genetic diseases that run through generations in a family. Support and constant care are the only things that help to manage these disorders. Some other examples of genetic disorders are –

  • Down’s Syndrome (mutation)
  • Cystic Fibrosis (mutation and inherited)
  • Huntington’s chorea (inherited)

Haemophilia

Haemophilia is a serious disease that is more common in men than women. It is a metabolic disorder associated with the X-linked recessive gene. It is characterised by uncontrolled bleeding, even from slight wounds. This is because of the lack of clot-forming substances (thromboplastin). There is no long term cure for haemophilia.

Thalassemia

It is also an inherited hematologic disease. Thalassemia is characterised by decreased production of haemoglobin. It leads to severe destruction of RBCs and thus leads to anaemia. It can be treated by iron chelation, folic acid and blood transfusions.

Certain heart diseases, diabetes and cancer, are caused by environmental factors as well as gene mutations.

Also Explore: Infectious Diseases

Non-communicable Diseases – Prevention and Cure

NCDs affect the global socioeconomic balance. Thus it should be controlled by focusing on the risk factors.

  • Healthy Diet – Avoiding canned food and excessive salt can prevent hypertension. Also, taking high fibre content helps in controlling hypertension. A healthy and balanced diet is also vital for overall body health.
  • Regular Exercise – Approximately 1.6 million global deaths are attributed to a sedentary lifestyle. Obesity is associated with many NCDs like coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and even some cancers.
  • Adequate Sleep – 6 to 8 hours of sound sleep is a must for a healthy body to function. Inadequate sleep leads to an increase in stress levels, changes in blood pressure and disturbance in the biological cycle.
  • Mental Relaxation – Meditation, exercise, and relaxation play a role in reducing anxiety and depression. This will have a positive impact on reducing hypertension, heart attacks and diabetes in the longer run.
  • Avoiding tobacco and alcohol – Avoiding alcohol will have an impact on preventing depression, chronic liver diseases and even motor vehicular injuries. Also, both chewing and smoking tobacco contribute to cancer, chronic lung diseases, heart diseases and strokes.
  • Genetic Counselling – It is a remarkable way to detect genetic diseases in an unborn child. Genetic counselling, along with gene therapy, is the only way to prevent genetic disorders as most of them do not have a complete cure.

The first step towards a cure is the management of these diseases. The management includes screening, detecting and treating the diseases. As NCDs are chronic, palliative care is also needed. Strengthening primary health care will significantly reduce the deaths associated with NCDs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are communicable diseases?

Any diseases that can spread among people are called communicable diseases. They are infectious in nature, and the causative agents include protozoa, bacteria, fungi and viruses. Most of them can be prevented by maintaining proper hygiene and sanitation. Examples – plague, typhoid, tuberculosis, etc.

What are endocrine diseases?

Endocrine diseases are non-communicable disorders that happen due to the malfunctioning of the endocrine system. Examples – goitre, diabetes mellitus, rickets, diabetes insipidus, pituitary tumours, etc. Diabetes mellitus is one of the most affecting NCDs that is caused due to inadequate secretion of the hormone insulin from the pancreas.

What are autoimmune diseases?

When the immune system cannot recognise its own tissue and launches an abnormal immune response, it is called an autoimmune disease. These diseases cannot be spread through direct contact. Various genetic and environmental factors play a role in causing this. Examples include celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.

What is the difference between infectious and non-infectious diseases?

Infectious diseases are caused by pathogens and are mostly communicable diseases that can be transmitted from person to person. Some infectious diseases are also non-communicable. Example – Tetanus. Non-infectious diseases are caused by environmental and genetic factors. This includes most non-communicable diseases like stroke, asthma and cancer.

Keep exploring BYJU’S Biology for more exciting topics.

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