World Health Day is a global health awareness day, sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Each and every year, the awareness day takes place on the 7th of April with a different condition or disease taking centre stage and being the primary focus for that year.
World Heath Day marks the founding date of WHO and is seen as an opportunity to raise widespread attention to a particular matter of global importance in the health world. The day has previously raised awareness for food safety (2015), mental health (2001) and blood pressure (2013) and this year, the focus is on beating diabetes.
Diabetes affects around 350 million people worldwide, a number which is shockingly expected to double in the next 20 years. The purpose of the day is to raise as much awareness as possible for the epidemic condition of which many cases are preventable.
But diabetes isn’t the only major health concern affecting those in the UK, in honour of National Health Day, we’ve found the top five health concerns affecting the British public.
Heart & Circulatory Disease
Coronary heart disease is the most common cause of death and premature death in the UK. Many assume it is a disease of men but in actual fact, it’s the leading cause of death for both men and women in the UK.
It is reported that 160,000 people die from heart and circulatory disease each year and although some conditions are hereditary, there are a number of lifestyle changes which can be made which reduce the risk of developing a heart disease.
Risk factors which are associated with heart conditions include poor diet and physical health, smoking, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. These are all lifestyle factors which are changeable with the right guidance and dedication. Other factors which are non-modifiable include family history, sex, age and ethnicity.
To prevent your risk of heart disease you can do a number of things such as;
Lowering your cholesterol – this can be done by controlling your diet and avoiding foods high in saturated fats and instead replacing them with saturated fats and eating lots of fibre, fruit and vegetables.
Cancer is one of the biggest health issues affecting not only the UK but the world.
There are an estimated 2.5 million people in the UK today who have had a cancer diagnosis.
The most common cancers in women are breast, lung and bowel cancers and for men its prostate, lung and bowel cancer. Together these four types of cancer accounted for almost half (46%) of all cancer deaths in the UK in 2012.
The treatment of cancer can be a long and tough process which often involves chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery which aims to reduce, remove or stop the cancer spreading.
It’s unknown why one person develops cancer and another doesn’t, there are a number of prevention theories out there but it’s important to be wary and ensure each theory is backed by healthcare professionals.
Health experts have repeatedly mentioned a number of cancer preventions which could possibly reduce your risk of cancer but this advice isn’t a guarantee. These preventions include not smoking, avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun, maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active.
If you have a family history of cancer or you’re worried about any symptoms, it’s best to speak to your GP who will be able to advise you further.
Respiratory disease is the general term which encompasses pathological conditions which affect the organs and tissues which enable breathing to take place.
This can range from the common cold to lung cancer and pneumonia which can be life threatening.
The two main diseases which have the biggest mortality rate in the UK include asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It’s estimated that 5.4 million people in the UK have asthma with rates of asthma in children being the highest worldwide.
Furthermore, more than 3 million people in England are living with COPD, which stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which describes a number of conditions including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. With COPD your airways become inflamed and it becomes harder for you to breath meaning your everyday life can be seriously affected.
The biggest cause of COPD is smoking but other causes include exposure to chemicals, dust and flames.
There is no cure for COPD, but there are a number of treatments which help you to manage your condition and help you live a normal, active lifestyle. These treatments include stopping smoking, keeping your lungs healthy by eating well, regularly exercising and partaking in oxygen therapy.
Liver disease is a particularly complex disease as there are more than 100 different types of the illness.
Liver disease is the only major cause of death which is still increasing year-on-year, with over 16,000 people dying from the disease in 2008.
The liver is the second largest organ in the body and it is vitally important as it fights infections and diseases, removes toxins from the body, controls cholesterol, and helps to thicken the blood. The liver is the only organ in the body which can easily replace damaged cells but if enough are damaged or lost, the liver may not be able to continue doing its job properly which is when you can get seriously ill.
The most common cause of liver disease is obesity, undiagnosed hepatitis infection and alcohol misuse. All three of these causes are largely preventable by stopping excessive alcohol consumption, control your diet and maintaining a healthy weight and getting vaccinated against hepatitis.
Alcohol- related liver disease is the biggest cause as it accounts for over a third of liver disease deaths in the UK. If you’re worried about your alcohol consumption or any of these causes, please speak to your healthcare provider who will be able to advise you further.
Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the England with over 110,00 people in the UK having a stroke every year making it the third largest cause of death. It’s further estimated that one in four people have a stroke will die and those who survive are left with long-term problems with the brain.
Stokes happen when the blood and oxygen supply to the brain is restricted and the brain cells begin to die. This leads to the brain being injured, the individual being disabled or even death.
There are two specific causes of a stroke these include ischaemic – when the blood supply is stopped due to a blood clot or haemorrhagic – where a weakened blood vessel supplying the brain bursts.
There are a number of risk factors associated with having a stroke, these include smoking, being overweight, lack of exercise and a poor diet as well as high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation and diabetes.
There are certain ways to treat strokes but it all depends on the type of stroke you’ve had, which part of the brain was affected and how long the stroke went untreated for.
Often, strokes are treated with specific medications which can help to remove blood clots, reduce blood pressure and reduce cholesterol levels. Depending on the severity of the stroke, surgery may be required to reduce the swelling of the brain and reduce the risk of further bleeding.
The main sign of someone having a stroke is in the Face, Arms, Speech and Time (FAST)
The face may have dropped on one side, they may not be able to lift booth arms and keep them there and experience numbness in one arm, their speech may be slurred or they may be unable to speak at all and it’s vital you dial 999 immediately if you suspect someone is having a stroke.