The ‘FATAL 5’

Photos by udra from Getty Images Pro, mthipsorn from Getty Images Pro, maaram from Getty Images Pro, afby71 from Getty Images Pro, and Science Photo Library

If you were living in any country during the 1800s, chances of celebrating your 41st birthday were slim. People would rarely live beyond the age of 40 during that time. But now, thanks to dramatic improvements in medical care and quality of life, many of you are fortunate enough to witness your grandparents cutting their birthday cakes. People now live at least 20 years longer than they did in the past century. But are these extra years necessarily spent in good health?

Chronic diseases, which are conditions that persist for a long time, have been on the rise. These include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), and metabolic syndrome. Chronic diseases are also considered ‘lifestyle diseases’ as your day-to-day habits can make you more vulnerable to them.

Lifestyle diseases are now among the leading causes of death worldwide. They also rob away your healthy life years as they can cause lifelong disabilities. Burdensome prescription plans, frequent check-ups, stressful medical tests…even the remedial measures for lifestyle diseases can severely affect your life. Mental health problems have also been on the rise in recent years, and these also have serious impacts on your overall health and well-being.

Still not convinced? Let’s talk numbers….

  1. Heart disease was responsible for about 17.8 million deaths in 2017.
  2. About 3 out of 4 deaths due to heart diseases happen in developing countries.
  3. About half a billion people in the world have diabetes. That’s higher than the population of the United States.
  4. Around 374 million people have a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  5. More than 3 million people die each year due to COPD. That’s about 6% of all deaths worldwide.
  6. About 9 out of 10 COPD cases occur in developing countries.
  7. Around 260 million people are affected by depression worldwide.
  8. More than 80% of people with mental disorders live in developing countries.
  9. Metabolic syndrome has been found to affect 12–37% of the Asian population and 12–26% of the European population.
  10. Being obese or overweight, a feature of metabolic syndrome, is behind about 4 million deaths globally.

Pick out any of the facts above, and you’ll know why you should be more vigilant about lifestyle diseases and mental health problems. And if you think you’re too young to worry about a heart attack or elevated blood sugar levels…think again! Lifestyle diseases are no longer considered ‘ailments of the aged’. They can strike even during the prime years of your life.

But there’s good news too! As you can tell from the name, lifestyle diseases are lifestyle-related. So, leading a healthy lifestyle can greatly reduce your risk of these diseases and poor mental health, however old you are. It’s important to start making smart lifestyle choices as early as possible, like exercising regularly, eating less refined sugar and salt, and quitting tobacco use.

Remember, the one person who can keep YOU the healthiest is YOU!

Dr. YOU is a one-stop platform to address the health information needs of health consumers. Our goal is to arm health consumers with the information necessary to make meaningful decisions regarding their health and nudge behaviour change.

With our combined experience of two decades in research and healthcare, we built the Dr. YOU platform around the WHO-endorsed “Best Buy” intervention design for preventing and managing chronic diseases.

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