Non-Communicable Diseases Part 1

Non-Communicable Diseases

Part 1

Non-Communicable Diseases:

  • A non-communicable disease (NCD) is an infirmity that cannot be transmitted directly from one person to another.
  • NCDs, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease, are collectively responsible for 74% of all deaths worldwide.
  • More than 75% of all NCD deaths, and 86% of the 17 million people who died prematurely (before reaching 70 years of age) happens in low- and middle-income countries.
  • NCDs share four major risk factors: tobacco use, physical inactivity, the excessive use of alcohol and unhealthy diets.
  • They are also known as chronic diseases and tend to persist for a long duration, often for the lifetime.

Types of NCDs:

The main types of NCD are:
  • cardiovascular diseases (such as heart attacks and stroke),
  • cancers,
  • chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma) and
  • diabetes

Risk Factors for NCDs:


  • While common perception would tell that these diseases affect the elderly alone, a detailed analysis would show that while age is a factor, it is far from being the deterministic one.
  • 17 million NCD deaths occur before the age of 70 years which shows that children, adults and the elderly are all vulnerable to NCDs.

Behavioural risk factors:

  • Risky behaviours, such as tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet and the harmful use of alcohol, all increase the risk of NCDs.
  • Tobacco alone accounts for over 8 million deaths every year, including second hand smoke inhalation.
  • 830 000 deaths can be attributed to insufficient physical activity annually.

Metabolic risk factors:

Metabolic risk factors contribute to four key metabolic changes that increase the risk of NCDs:

  • raised blood pressure;
  • overweight/obesity;
  • hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels); and
  • hyperlipidemia (high levels of fat in the blood).

NCDs in India:

  • As per WHO, 66% of all deaths happening in India are caused by non-communicable diseases and 54% of all deaths under the age 70 are due to NCDs.
  • As per an ICMR survey on mortality among tribals top NCD causes of death were cardiovascular diseases (heart diseases-24%), followed by cancers (11%).
  • The study has also shown that NCDs have replaced other causes of death (such as infectious diseases), even among tribal population.