Top 5 Chronic Conditions Affecting the Global Population

4 min read
people walking in the stree
First Published: 
Jun 2020

Key Learnings contained in this article:

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are among the leading cause of death worldwide. It’s estimated that 3-in-5 people will die from an NCD. Globally, these conditions affect poverty rates and continue to impede the economic advancement of many countries

1. Cardiovascular Disease

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the #1 cause of death worldwide. CVD encompasses a wide range of disorders, including coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and congenital heart disease. Altogether, CVD is responsible for around 17.9 million deaths every year.

Risk factors for CVD include poor diet, tobacco use, and physical inactivity. Changing any one of these bad habits can lower the risk of CVD. Treatments for CVD vary but include medications, surgery, and rehabilitation. New research is providing insights into genetic risk factors as well. In 2019, 22 new regions of the genome were identified that affect the risk of venous thromboembolism, which can be fatal for many patients.

2. Cancer

Cancer accounts for 7.6 million deaths worldwide, with a disproportionate amount occurring in low- and middle-income countries. The top types of cancer affect over 3.2 million people every year and it’s predicted that these rates will only continue to rise in the coming years. According to the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases (GACD), over 30% of cancers are preventable through lifestyle modifications, with tobacco use being the leading risk factor accounting for 22% of cancer deaths.

Early detection is key to treatment, but oncology research continues to provide promising new treatment options using gene and immunotherapy.

3. Chronic Respiratory Illness

Rates of chronic respiratory illness have been steadily increasing over the past 30 years. These illnesses include COPD, pneumoconiosis, asthma, and pulmonary sarcoidosis. Compared with other leading causes of death, respiratory illnesses are sadly neglected.

4. Diabetes

Diabetes affects over 422 million people worldwide, and the numbers have been steadily increasing each year. The majority of people living with diabetes have type 2, which is attributed to excess body weight and inactivity.  Over time, diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, strokes, and lower-limb amputations. Treatment typically includes monitoring insulin levels, increasing physical activity, and insulin treatment.

While there is still no cure for diabetes, research continues to advance with the hope of one day creating an artificial pancreas or replacing damaged islet cells.

5. Mental Illness

An estimated 10% of the world’s population suffers from some type of mental illness. Stigma around mental health issues causes many cases to go untreated. It is acceptable to take time off if we are sick with a cold or the flu, but patients dealing with severe depression or anxiety do not receive the same level of understanding. Left untreated, mental illness can lead to dire consequences, including loss of work, trouble with the law, deteriorating physical health, self-harm, and suicide. It’s estimated that untreated mental illness costs the global economy $2.5 trillion in lost productivity every year.

There is strong evidence that common mental health disorders can be successfully treated by increasing access to care, expanding research capacity, and implementing prevention programs.

We'll deliver straight to your inbox

We take your privacy very seriously and will never share your details with other parties.
You're subscribed! We'll send you a welcome email shortly, keep an eye out and if you don't find it perhaps check the (sometimes over-zealous) spam folder.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Dorothy Keine
Dorothy Keine is an experienced medical and scientific writer with experience at med comms agencies, pharmaceutical companies, medical start-ups, and academic research. She loves to explore the fields of science and medicine.
Share this post

Discover the Power of Communication with Rx

Embark on your medcomms journey with Rx today and experience the difference of working with a world-class medical communications agency.

Child playing in autumn leaves
Copyright Rx Communications Ltd