Customers line up for fast food at Gulf City Mall, Lowlands.  - David Reid
Customers line up for fast food at Gulf City Mall, Lowlands. - David Reid

Dr Maxwell Adeyemi

Lifestyle diseases are ailments whose occurrence is primarily linked with the day-to-day life habits of an individual. If these daily habits of an individual are improper, they might lead one to follow a sedentary lifestyle on a day-to-day basis. Such a lifestyle can further lead to several chronic non-communicable diseases, which can have near life-threatening consequences.

Major lifestyle diseases

1. Heart disease

Heart diseases are an example of lifestyle diseases and refers to conditions involving the heart, its valves, muscles, vessels, or internal electric pathways responsible for muscular contraction. Some of the commonly occurring conditions of heart disease include the following: heart failure, arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy, coronary-artery disease, heart-valve disease.

While the exact cause of heart disease or cardiovascular disease is not clear, there are several risk factors for developing these lifestyle diseases. They are: age of an individual, smoking, poor diet, high blood pressure, diabetes, gender (occurs more in men), high blood cholesterol levels, obesity, poor dental health, physical inactivity and stress.

2. Obesity

Individuals become obese because of unhygienic and unhealthy eating habits, reduced physical activity, stressful lifestyles, and other factors. Obese individuals have a body mass index greater than 25, and they suffer from cardiovascular diseases, breathing problems, blood pressure, and diabetes. This is a primary disorder that can result in several other chronic diseases in an individual.

Besides unhealthy eating and lifestyle habits, there are several risk factors for obesity. These include the following: age, family history and genetics, race and ethnicity, gender, unhealthy environments like getting exposed to chemicals known as obesogens. These can change hormones and increase fatty tissue in an individual’s body.

3. Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes refers to a condition where cells cannot utilize glucose or blood sugar efficiently for energy. This occurs when the cells become insensitive to insulin, and the blood sugar levels gradually become too high. A combination of several factors like broken beta cells, extra weight, metabolic syndrome, and other factors are responsible for the cause of this lifestyle disease.

Maxwell Adeyemi -

The various risk factors of this lifestyle disease are the following:

Being overweight, drinking soda, excessive consumption of sugar and processed food and foods having simple carbohydrates, following a sedentary lifestyle, consuming artificial sweeteners (sugar-free foods),genetics or having family members with diabetes, lack of exercise and stress.

4. Stroke

A stroke occurs when a portion of the brain loses blood supply and stops working. This results in the part of the body being controlled by the injured brain to stop working. A stroke is also known as a "brain attack", or cerebrovascular accident. A stroke is mainly caused because of two reasons – bursting or leaking of a blood vessel (haemorrhagic stroke) or a blocked artery (ischemic stroke).

The different risk factors of stroke are: high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, having heart rhythm disturbances, especially atrial fibrillation.

5. Hypertension

Hypertension or high blood pressure refers to the tension or high pressure in the arteries – the vessels responsible for carrying blood from the heart to the rest of the body.

The various complications of hypertension are kidney (renal) disease, heart disease, eye damage, stroke (brain damage), and hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis or atherosclerosis).

While the exact cause of high blood pressure is not known, individuals must keep in mind the following risk factors of hypertension: family history, obesity, age of an individual, race, being physically inactive, tobacco usage, consuming excessive salt or sodium, intake of too little potassium, excessive consumption of alcohol, certain chronic conditions like sleep apnea, kidney disease and diabetes and stress.

6. Cancers

Many cancers are closely linked to lifestyle habits. Common cancers such as lung, liver and colon cancers are largely related to poor habits such as smoking, unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles.

7.Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to a chronic lung disease that leads to obstructed and inflamed airflow from the lungs. The various symptoms of COPD include chronic cough with mucus, wheezing, long-term breathing issues, etc. The common causes of this lifestyle disease are genetics, smoking, and environmental factors like gas leaks and pollution.

The various risk factors for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD) are as follows: Passive smoking, working with chemicals, dust and fumes, history of childhood respiratory infection, a genetic condition known as Alpha-1 deficiency.

Preventing lifestyle diseases

1. Having a healthy diet

A wholesome and balanced diet is essential for an individual’s health and wellbeing. One should consume more fresh fruits, green vegetables, and foods rich in fiber and calcium.

2. Balance physical activity and food consumption

It is essential for every individual to maintain the right balance between physical activity and food. An adult individual must undertake some form of physical activity for at least 30 minutes for 5 days a week to keep the immune system active and functioning properly.

3. Monitoring body weight

People exercise at Skinner Park, San Fernando. -

Individuals must ensure to monitor their body weight closely. Having extra weight, especially near the tummy, can be a possible reason for cardiovascular death. Obese and overweight individuals are also at risk of developing severe health issues such as diabetes, sleep apnea, and cancer.

4. Abstaining from smoking, alcohol.

Around one-third of deaths caused due to heart diseases can be prevented by avoiding alcohol and smoking nicotine. Both of these substances cause considerable damage to the blood vessels that automatically doubles the risk of blood clotting and atherosclerosis.

By keeping these health-damaging habits at bay, individuals would be able to prevent lifestyle diseases and develop high energy levels, improved lung capacity and younger-looking skin.

5. Avoiding salt, oil and sugar in excess

Anything in excess turns out to be unhealthy for the body. Consuming a high amount of salt, sugar, and oil can lead to blood pressure, heart problems (because of high cholesterol) and diabetes. So individuals must take steps to cut down on these three ingredients from their diet.

6. Screen for lifestyle diseases

Periodic health check-ups provide a thorough analysis of an individual’s present health status. It also proves to be helpful in early diagnosis and timely treatment of ailments.

7. Manage stress

Stress is a common denominator in many of the lifestyle diseases. Very often stress may originate from work, relationships, financial and other personal issues, it is therefore important to manage the stress levels to minimise its impact in triggering lifestyle diseases.

Contact Dr Maxwell on 363-1807 or 757-5411.

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