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What are Non-Communicable Diseases? (NCDs)

What is an NCD?

Non-communicable diseases (NCD) are a group of chronic illnesses that have created a major impact on health of people and have raised concerns globally.

They kill 41 million people each year and counts to 15 million premature deaths each year between the ages of 30 to 69 years worldwide. The majority are from low- and middle-income countries.

Diabetes, Cardiac conditions (angina, heart attacks, heart failure) strokes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Asthma, cancers, obesity and chronic kidney disease are the most common among these diseases.

How NCDs develop?

NCDs occur as a result of a combination of any of the following factors that are driven by rapid urbanization, unhealthy lifestyles and population ageing:

  • genetic,
  • physiological,
  • environmental and
  • behavioral

Why NCDs are life-threatening?

They damage the vital organs in the body such as heart, brain, kidneys, lungs and eyes and further deteriorates the health of patients.

Who are at risk?

People of any age group. NCDs progress slowly over the time and take time to produce overt signs and symptoms and are non-infectious, yet preventable.

What risk factors could cause NCDs?

  • Harmful use of Tobacco and alcohol,
  • lack of physical activity,
  • sedentary lifestyles,
  • unhealthy dietary patterns leading to key metabolic imbalances;
  • elevated blood pressure(hypertension),
  • overweight/obesity,
  • elevated blood glucose levels(hyperglycemia) and
  • elevated blood lipid levels (hyper-lipidemia)

How to avoid NCDs?

Above risk factors that can be modified with appropriate education, guidance and adherence. Both the preventive and curative health sectors play a major role in this approach starting from the grass root level of primary health care.

Management of NCDs

  • Screening,
  • Detection,
  • Treatment,
  • Counseling and
  • Provision of pain relieving care for people in need.

How to treat NCD?

  1. Lifestyle modifications   – case of mild severity
  2. Drug therapies                  – depending on the severity of established heart diseases


Available drug therapies prevent the onset of further complications (primary prevention). Also, they work for the treatment of the existing complications (secondary prevention). The secondary prevention includes drugs for symptoms relief, to increase the survival and to reduce the mortality.

However, most of the drugs should be taken life-long UNLESS strict lifestyle modifications and compliance to drugs could control the disease progression or achieved the target reduction in the metabolic abnormalities).

What are the aspects of NCD management?

  • Patients with chronic diseases should be followed up regularly by a doctor at a clinic setting to monitor the progression and to detect the impending complications.
  • Poverty, accessibility to health and emergency services,
  • availability of medications,
  • mental health,
  • substance abuse,
  • healthy aging, dementia, malnutrition,
  • road safety and
  • disability

Patients, healthy individuals and policy makers from varying sectors in a country hold a significant responsibility in reduction of the Non-Communicable Diseases in the community and to reach global targets.

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