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Lifestyle diseases: consequences, characteristics, causes and control

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Abstract

Lifestyle diseases are ailments that are primarily based on the day to day habits of people. Habits that detract people from activity and push them towards a sedentary routine can cause a number of health issues that can lead to chronic non-communicable diseases that can have near life-threatening consequences. The world population has gained more than a decade of life expectancy since 1980, rising to 69.0 years in men and 74.8 years in women in 2015. The rate of people dying from cardiovascular disease and cancers has also fallen, although at a slower pace. An estimated 17.5 million people died from cardiovascular diseases in 2012, representing 31 percent of all global deaths. This number is expected to increase to more than 23 million by 2030. The number of annual deaths has increased from roughly 48 million in 1990 to almost 56 million in 2015. 70% (40 million) of global deaths in 2015 were due to non-communicable diseases. People are spending more years living with illness and disability. High blood pressure, smoking, high blood sugar, high body mass index, and childhood undernutrition were the world's leading risk factors for premature death and ill health in 2015. Innovative approaches and effective and evidence based interventions are required for the prevention, control and treatment of cardiovascular diseases to reduce the burden and save lives. There is need to develop broad and sustainable strategy for cardiovascular research and prevention. Such a strategy should recognize the unique societal influences, regional cultural diversity and the changing lifestyles as rates of urbanization continue to increase dramatically. The involvement of the medical community in prevention efforts is important. Strong methods to control the use of and exposure to tobacco, coupled with promotion of healthy lifestyles, such as increased physical activity and decreased fat and carbohydrate consumption, should be an integral part of any national program. A comprehensive strategy should be designed so that all stages of the life cycle are targeted. Reducing demand for tobacco products and content of salt in foods can help millions of people avoid unnecessary death and suffering from cardiovascular disease.
Journal of Cardiology & Current Research
Lifestyle Diseases: Consequences, Characteristics, Causes
and Control
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diseases (CVD), stroke, diabetes and certain forms of cancer are
heavily linked to lifestyle choices, and hence, are often known as
lifestyle diseases.1
Cardiovascular diseases that include heart attacks and stroke
account for 17.7 million deaths every year, making it the most
lethal disease globally. Cancer kills around 8.8 million people
each year, followed by respiratory diseases that claim around 3.9
million lives annually and diabetes that has an annual morbidity
rate of 1.6 million. These four groups of diseases are the most
common causes of death among all NCDs2. Figure 1 depicts the
top 10 causes of death globally.
1WHO (2017). Noncommunicable diseases. Fact Sheet. (Retrieved from:
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs355/en/ on: 2/05/2017)
2ibid
NCDs are caused, to a massive extent, by four behavioural risk

and harmful use of alcohol3. According to WHO, low- and middle-
income countries and the poorer people in all countries are the
worst affected by deaths due to NCDs. It is a vicious cycle of risk
where the poor are increasingly exposed to behavioural risk

role in driving people and their families towards poverty. It starts
from an individual and eventually affects entire countries. A
country like India, for example, was slated for an economic loss of
more than $236 million in 2015, on account of unhealthy lifestyles
and faulty diet4. That is why in order to tackle the global impact
of NCDs, it has to be aggressively confronted in the most affected
areas and communities.
Characteristics of NCDs
Complex etiology (causes): Non communicable diseases are
driven by seemingly unrelated causes such as rapid unplanned
urbanization, globalization of unhealthy lifestyles and population
ageing. Apparent causes such as raised blood pressure, increased
blood glucose, elevated blood lipids and obesity may be
representations of deep lying lifestyle habits5.
Multiple risk factors: There are a number of risk factors that
lead to the onset and development of NCDs. The various types
         

risk factors, many of which are common for a number of diseases.
Long latency period: The latency period of NCDs is generally
long, often stretching from many years to several decades.
3WHO (2011). Global status report on noncommunicable diseases 2010.
(Retrieved from http://www.who.int/nmh/publications/ncd_report_full_
en.pdf on 1/05/2017)
4WHO/WEF (2008). Preventing noncommunicable diseases in the
workplace through diet and physical activity: World Health Organisation/
World Economic Forum report of a joint event.
5Aryal KK, Mehata S, Neupane S, Vaidya A, Dhimal M, et al. (2015). The
Burden and Determinants of Non Communicable Diseases Risk Factors
in Nepal: Findings from a Nationwide STEPS Survey. PLoS ONE, 10(8),
e0134834.
Volume 9 Issue 3 - 2017
Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, India
*Corresponding author: S A Tabish, Sher-i-Kashmir
Institute of Medical Sciences, Srinagar, India, Email:
Received: May 04, 2017 | Published: July 21, 2017
Review Article
J Cardiol Curr Res 2017, 9(3): 00326
Lifestyle diseases are ailments that are primarily based on the
day to day habits of people. Habits that detract people from activity
and push them towards a sedentary routine can cause a number of
health issues that can lead to chronic non-communicable diseases
that can have near life-threatening consequences.
Introduction
Non communicable diseases (NCDs) kill around 40 million
people each year, that is around 70% of all deaths globally1. NCDs
are chronic in nature and cannot be communicated from one
person to another. They are a result of a combination of factors
including genetics, physiology, environment and behaviours. The
main types of NCDs are cardiovascular and chronic respiratory
diseases in addition to cancer. NCDs such as cardiovascular
Figure 1: Top 10 causes of death worldwide (Source WHO)1.
1WHO (2017). The top 10 causes of death. Fact Sheet. (Retrieved
from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs310/en/ on
2/05/2017)
Citation: Tabish SA (2017) Lifestyle Diseases: Consequences, Characteristics, Causes and Control. J Cardiol Curr Res 9(3): 00326. DOI:
10.15406/jccr.2017.09.00326
Lifestyle Diseases: Consequences, Characteristics, Causes and Control 2/4
Copyright:
©2017 Tabish
Non-contagious origin (noncommunicable): NCDs are not
communicated from one person to another, so it is a given that
these diseases develop in a person from non-contagious origins.
Prolonged course of illness: NCDs are chronic in nature and
thus the course of illness if often prolonged and takes years before
a patient may be forced to opt for medical care or intervention.
Functional impairment or disability: NCDs usually give rise
       
normal life. Patients with chronic NCDs may not be able to take

Causes
The causes of NCDs can be divided into three broad categories:
      
and metabolic risk factors.
    Behavioural risk factors
such as excessive use of alcohol, bad food habits, eating and
smoking tobacco, physical inactivity, wrong body posture and
disturbed biological clock increase the likelihood of NCDs. The
modern occupational setting (desk jobs) and the stress related to
work is also being seen as a potent risk factor for NCDs.6
According to the WHO, more than 7 million people die each
year due to the use of tobacco and the fatality rate is projected to
increase markedly in the years to come. Excessive use of sodium
in the diet causes 4.1 million deaths per year while alcohol intake
leads to around 1.65 million deaths due to NCDs. A simple lack
of physical activity has been claiming 1.6 million lives annually.1
   Risk factors that cannot be
   

a. Age
b. Race
c. Gender
d. Genetics
Metabolic risk factors: Metabolic risk factors lead to four major
changes in the metabolic systems that increase the possibility of
NCDs:
i. Increased blood pressure
ii. Obesity
iii. Increased blood glucose levels or hyperglycemia
iv. Increased levels of fat in the blood or hyperlipidemia
Increased blood pressure is the leading metabolic risk factor
globally with 19% of the global deaths attributed to it, followed
by obesity and hyperglycermia.
Four Major Lifestyle Diseases
CVD
Cardiovascular diseases are a group of disorders of the heart
and blood vessels and may include:
6Sharma M, Majumdar PK (2009). Occupational lifestyle diseases: An
emerging issue. Indian Journal of Occupational and Environmental
Medicine, 13(3), 109–112.
A. Ischaemic heart disease
B. Stroke
C. Peripheral arterial disease
D. Congenital heart disease
CVDs are the number 1 cause of death globally and account for
more than 17 million deaths per year. The number is estimated to
rise by 2030 to more than 23 million a year.7

Risk Factors

Risk Factors Other Risk Factors
High blood pressure
Abnormal blood
lipids
Tobacco use
Physical inactivity
Obesity
Unhealthy diet (salt)
Diabetes
Heavy alcohol use
Age
Heredity or
family history
Gender
Ethnicity or race
Excess homocysteine in

markers (Creactive
protein)
Abnormal blood
coagulation (elevated
blood levels of

Lipoprotein(a)
Diabetes
Diabetes is a metabolism disorder that affects the way the body
used food for energy and physical growth. There are 4 types of
diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, Gestational, and Pre-Diabetes (Impaired
Glucose Tolerance). Type 2 is the most common diabetes in the


Factors
Non-

Risk Factors
Other Risk
Factors
Unhealthy diets
Physical Inactivity
Obesity or Overweight
High Blood Pressure
High Cholesterol
Heavy alcohol use
Psychological stress
High consumption of sugar

Advacnced age
Family history/
genetics
Race
Distribution of
fat in the body
Presence of
autoantibodies
Low
socioeconomic
status
Cancer
Cancer affects different parts of the body and is characterised
by a rapid creation of abnormal cells in that part and can invade
other parts of the body as well. More than 7 million people die
of cancer each year and 30% of those diseases are attributed to
lifestyle choices.8
Type Of
Cancer  Other Risk Factors
Cervical
cancer
Smoking
Poverty
Human papilloma virus
infection (hpv)

Family history
7Mathers CD, Loncar D (2006). Projections of Global Mortality and Burden
of Disease from 2002 to 2030.PLoS Medicine, 3(11), e442.
8WHO (2017) Cancer. Fact Sheet. (Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/
mediacentre/factsheets/fs297/en/ on 1/05/2017)
Citation: Tabish SA (2017) Lifestyle Diseases: Consequences, Characteristics, Causes and Control. J Cardiol Curr Res 9(3): 00326. DOI:
10.15406/jccr.2017.09.00326
Lifestyle Diseases: Consequences, Characteristics, Causes and Control 3/4
Copyright:
©2017 Tabish
Lung
cancer
Smoking
Second hand smoke
Radiation therapy
Being exposed to
asbestos, radon,
chromium, nickel,
arsenic, soot, or tar
Living in air-polluted
place
Breast
cancer
Hormone therapies
Weight and physical
activity
Race
Genetics BRCA1
and BRCA2 genes
Age
Prostate
cancer
Obesity
Bad food habits

Age
Race
Colorectal
cancer
Unhealthy diet

activity
Age
Race
Family history
Diabetes
Chronic respiratory diseases
Some of the most under-diagnosed conditions, chronic
respiratory diseases (CRD) are a potent cause of death globally
with 90% of the deaths taking place in low-income countries.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma are
the two main types of CRDs.

Factors 
Cigarette smoke
Dust and chemicals
Environmental
tobacco smoke
Air pollution Infections
Genetics
Age
CVD – A global epidemic
As stated earlier, CVD is the number one cause for deaths globally
and the number of people dying from it each year is constantly
rising. It is estimated that by 2030, CVD will be responsible for
more deaths in low income countries than infectious diseases,
maternal and perinatal conditions, and nutritional disorders
combined9. Figure 2 highlights the prominence of CVD in global
mortality trends in comparison to other causes.
CVDs are the face of lifestyle diseases and manifest in a number
of ways, such as:
Coronary heart disease (CHD): Also known as coronary heart
disease and ischaemic heart disease, CHD is one of the most
common types of heart problems faced today and is characterised
9Beaglehole R, Bonita R. (2008). Global public health: A scorecard. Lancet,
372(9654):1988–1996.

heart muscle. This puts exaggerated strain on the heart, which can
lead to:
a)             
heart
b)           
suddenly but completely blocked
c) Heart failure – the failure of the heart to pump blood properly
to the rest of the body
Cerebrovascular disease (strokes and TIAs): Cerebrovascular
disease is the disease of blood vessels supplying blood to the
brain. When the blood supply to the brain is cut off, a person
suffers a stroke, which can be lethal. A transient ischaemic attack,
popularly known as a mini-stroke, occurs when the blood supply
to the brain is temporarily blocked.
The acronym FAST is used to signify the symptoms of a stroke
or TIA10. It stands for:
a. Face: Face drooping on one side is the most common visible
symptom, followed by dropping of mouth or eye.
b. Arms: Weakness of numbness in one or both arms doesn’t
allow a person to raise both of his or her hands up and hold
them there.
c. Speech: Slurred or garbled speech in some cases, and in other
cases: no speech.
10NHS (2017). Act F.A.S.T. if you think someone is having a stroke. NHS
    http://www.nhs.uk/actfast/
 on 1/05/2017)
Figure 2: Projected global deaths by cause. (SOURCE: Beaglehole
and Bonita, 2008).1
1ibid
Citation: Tabish SA (2017) Lifestyle Diseases: Consequences, Characteristics, Causes and Control. J Cardiol Curr Res 9(3): 00326. DOI:
10.15406/jccr.2017.09.00326
Lifestyle Diseases: Consequences, Characteristics, Causes and Control 4/4
Copyright:
©2017 Tabish
d. Time: It is time to call the emergency services if you see any
of these symptoms.
Other symptoms include:
i. Blurred or complete loss of vision in one or both eyes
ii. One-sided weakness or numbness of the body
iii. Sudden memory loss or confusion
iv. Sudden dizziness combined with any of the above mentioned

Peripheral arterial disease: Peripheral arterial diseases is a
disease of blood vessels supplying the arms and legs. It happens
when there is a blockage in the arteries to the limbs (usually the
legs).
Signs to watch out for:
a) Dull or cramping pain that gets worse with walking and
better with rest
b) Hair loss on the limbs
c) Numbness or weakness in the limbs
d) Persistent ulcers on the legs and feet
Rheumatic heart disease: Rheumatic heart disease is
characterised by damage to the heart muscle and heart valves
from rheumatic fever, caused by streptococcal bacteria. Some of
the most common symptoms are fever and painful, tender joints.
Congenital heart disease: Congenital heart disease is a problem
with the structure of the heart, i.e. malformations of heart
structure, that exist at birth. The problem can range from a small
hole in the heart to a more severe problem such as a defective
heart muscle. Some of the common symptoms are shortness of
breath and having trouble exercising. In infants and younger kids,
         
important marker.
Risk factors include:
i. Use of certain medications, drugs or alcohol during pregnancy
ii. 
iii. Genetic problems or issues with chromosomes of the child
Pulmonary embolism due to deep vein thrombosis (DVT):
DVTs are blood clots, often found in the veins of the legs, which
can dislodge and move to the heart and lungs, causing pulmonary
embolism. This condition can be life-threatening and special care
should be taken if diagnosed with DVT.
Symptoms include:
a) Chest pain – may get worse with deep breaths
b) Sudden shortness of breath
c) Sudden cough or coughing up blood
d) Anxiety
e) Light-headedness and fainting
Aortic disease: Aortic diseases are a group of conditions that
affect the aorta, the largest blood vessel in the body. The aorta is
responsible for carrying blood from the heart to the rest of the
body. An example of an aortic disease would be aortic aneurism,
where the walls of the aorta are weakened, leading to outward
bulging of the blood vessel. Usually symptomless, this condition
can lead to life-threatening circumstances if it bursts.
Managing CVD: Depending on the type of CVD, an appropriate
treatment plan can help alleviate the problem/s. There are a
number of treatments ranging from medication to surgeries
that can help, however, prevention is always recommended over
treatment. To prevent CVD, one must:
a) Stop smoking
b) 
c) Exercise regularly (>150 minutes of aerobic activity per
week)
d) Maintain a healthy weight and body mass index (BMI; aim for
a BMI below 25)
e) Cut down on alcohol (<14 alcohol units per week)
f) Aspirin and anti-platelet therapy11
Control and prevention of lifestyle diseases
An important way of controlling non-communicable diseases
is by controlling the risk factors associated with it. In other
words, a number of communicable diseases can be prevented
by controlling the behavioural or lifestyle habits associated with
those diseases. There are a number of low-cost solutions that can
be implemented by the government and other involved groups
      1. Monitoring the
trends of non -communicable diseases and their associated risks
is crucial for guiding policies and guidelines.
A comprehensive approach is essential that involves all

to minimise the impact of lifestyle diseases on individuals and
society. The approach needs to instigate a collaborative effort to
minimise the risks associated with no communicable diseases
and at the same time inspire interventions to control and prevent
them.
Lifestyle diseases are a threat to the socio-economic aspects
of nations globally and appropriate actions for their management
are the need of the moment. Management of lifestyle diseases
includes proper diagnosis, screening and treatment of these
diseases in addition to providing palliative care for people who
require it. Quality lifestyle disease intervention needs to be
delivered through a primary healthcare approach where early
detection and proper treatment are prioritised.
11Wong ND (2015) Epidemiology and prevention of cardiovascular disease.
In Detels, R., Gulliford, M, et al. Oxford Textbook of Global Public Health (6
ed.). Oxford University Press.
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