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Live Longer By Understanding Risk Factors

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.



Do you know when people think of diseases that might kill them they usually think of cancer or maybe a major heart attack. The medical conditions that actually kill most people are not always what you would assume. The top ten causes of death worldwide are different. Another surprise is that several of the top ten diseases are completely preventable.

Obviously some diseases have a genetic component, but preventable diseases rely on the quality of your healthcare and especially on your personal health habits. There are many steps you can take to prevent some of the most deadly diseases or certainly lessen their impact on your body.

Top Ten Diseases Causing Death

In 2019, WHO listed the top ten diseases that caused death for 55% of the 55.4 deaths worldwide. There are basically three broad categories concerning causes of death.

These categories are:

  1. Cardiovascular (ischaemic heart disease, stroke)
  2. Respiratory (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lower respiratory infections)
  3. Neonatal conditions – including birth asphyxia, birth trauma, neonatal sepsis and infections, and preterm birth complications.

The top ten causes of death in the millions include:

  1. Kidney disease 1.33 million
  2. Diabetes mellitus 1.50
  3. Diarrhoeal diseases 1.52
  4. Alzheimer’s disease (dementias) 1.64
  5. Trachea, bronchus, lung cancers 1.78
  6. Neonatal conditions 2.04
  7. Lower respiratory infections 2.59
  8. COPD 3.23
  9. Stroke 6.19
  10. Ischemic heart disease 8.89

Life expectancy has increased over the years, and causes of death have also changed. HIV/Aids and tuberculosis numbers are declining. Alzheimer’s is still a growing problem and affects more women than men.

A potential problem may be COVID-19 disrupting immunization against diseases like measles, cholera and polio. Population has increased, and there is a better standard of living.

Top 10 causes of death in the world

Prevention Tips For Top Ten Diseases

We obviously cannot change our inherited medical problems, but we sure can choose to live a healthy lifestyle.

We can work to prevent CAD by maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet and exercising. High blood pressure is a risk factor, so take your medication as necessary. Choose not to smoke, control your blood glucose level if you have diabetes and only drink in moderation. The risk factors for a stroke and diabetes are the same as those for CAD.

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The risk factors for lower respiratory infections include:

  • Having the flu
  • Poor air quality or frequent exposure to lung irritants
  • Smoking
  • Weakened immune system
  • Crowded childcare settings
  • HIV

Be aware that household pollutants, like fuels and mold can also contribute to lung damage. Getting the flu shot each year, not smoking and staying away from lung irritants are the things that you can change. Have safe sex and do not use contaminated needles will help prevent HIV.


Diarrhoeal Diseases

Diarrhoeal diseases tend to occur when you live in an area with poor sanitary conditions and if you do not have access to clean water. Malnourishment is another factor. Children are more likely to experience more severe symptoms.


Alzheimer’s Disease

There are several risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, but not many ways to prevent it. The risk factors include:

  • Over 65 years of age
  • Family history
  • Existing cognitive impairment
  • Down syndrome
  • Females are at a higher risk
  • Previous head trauma
  • Having poor engagement with other people for an extended time

Regular exercise may be a deterrent for Alzheimers and dementia. High blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol also increase the risks. Maintaining strong social connections and keeping mentally active while aging will decrease the risk for getting Alzheimer’s disease. Wearing a helmet and using a seat belt will help prevent head trauma. "Fall-proofing" by minimizing clutter and removing loose throw rugs.

There are several benefits by staying mentally active as it will help to prevent age-related memory loss. Mental stimulation will help improve cognitive functioning, which includes our ability to think, learn and to remember.

Final Thoughts

A healthy lifestyle is always the answer to living longer, which means eating a healthy diet and exercising. Of course, we should not smoke and drink alcohol in moderation. Mental stimulation can also not be overlooked. Getting the flu and pneumonia vaccines may also help to extend your life.

8 Ways to Reduce Your Coronary Artery Disease Risk | Cleveland Clinic


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2022 Pamela Oglesby

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