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    Behaviors that Might Increase the Risk of Non-Communicable Diseases

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    The approach to women’s health in Central America continues to be an area for improvement; from health systems and even from a comprehensive perspective of society. Globally, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) kill 41 million people each year, which is equivalent to 71% of all deaths in the world.

    In fact, each year 15 million people between the ages of 30 and 69 die from NCDs. More than 85% of these “premature” deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

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    General panorama

    NCDs tend to be long-lasting and result from a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental, and behavioral factors. The main types of NCDs are cardiovascular diseases (such as heart attacks and strokes), cancer, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma), and diabetes.

    There are modifiable behaviors that increase the risk of these conditions, such as: tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diets and harmful use of alcohol.

    Data such as that tobacco claims more than 7.2 million lives a year (if the effects of exposure to secondhand smoke are included), and that number is expected to increase considerably in the upcoming years; that some 4.1 million deaths annually are attributed to excessive salt/sodium intake; and that more than half of the 3.3 million annual deaths attributable to alcohol consumption are due to NCDs, including cancer, show that these behaviors are highly risky.

    There are also metabolic risk factors, such as: increased blood pressure; overweight and obesity; hyperglycemia (high levels of glucose in the blood); and hyperlipidemia (elevated concentrations of fats in the blood). In terms of attributable deaths, the main metabolic risk factor is increased blood pressure (which is attributed to 19% of deaths globally), followed by overweight and obesity, and increased blood glucose.

    SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 01: In this photo illustration a man smokes on August 1, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. In a plan announced today, the government will increase the excise on tobacco by 12.5 per cent annually over the next four years, raising over AUD$5 billion. The hike is estimated to increase the cost of cigarettes by AUD$5 by 2016, and is the first increase in the tobacco excise since 2010. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

    What do women get sick of?

    The main diseases that afflict women are cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer, that is, non-communicable diseases. Likewise, HIV/AIDS is one of the main diseases that affect women of reproductive age, especially between 15 and 24 years of age.

    Many women die from illnesses during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum; most are preventable or treatable. The main complications, which cause 75% of maternal deaths, are: severe bleeding, infections, gestational hypertension (preeclampsia and eclampsia), and unsafe abortions.

    HIV-related tuberculosis is one of the 5 causes of death in people between 20 and 58 years of age. Injuries also add up, mostly due to traffic accidents, injuries from kitchen fires, and violence from their partners.

    Nonetheless, uterine cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. 90% of deaths from this cause are concentrated in low- and middle-income countries.

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