In India, air pollution and high blood pressure among top 5 risk factors for deaths in 2019: Lancet

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Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas
| Pune |

October 16, 2020 1:59:27 am


Interaction of Covid-19 with continued global rise in chronic illness and related risk factors, including obesity, high blood sugar, and outdoor air pollution over the past 30 years has created a perfect storm, fuelling Covid deaths, said researchers in The Lancet. (File)

IN 2019, the top five risk factors for death in India were air pollution (contributing to an estimated 1.67 million deaths), high blood pressure (1.47 million), tobacco use (1.23 million), poor diet (1.18 million), and high blood sugar (1.12 million).

Latest disease estimates are part of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study, to be published in The Lancet on Friday. Researchers have analysed 286 causes of death, 369 diseases and injuries, and 87 risk factors in 204 countries and the latest estimates indicate how vulnerable countries were to the Covid-19.

Interaction of Covid-19 with continued global rise in chronic illness and related risk factors, including obesity, high blood sugar, and outdoor air pollution over the past 30 years has created a perfect storm, fuelling Covid deaths, said researchers in The Lancet.

The leading non-communicable cause of death in India in 2019 was ischemic heart disease with 1.52 million deaths, followed by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (8,98,000), stroke (6,99,000), diabetes (2,73,000) and cirrhosis and other chronic liver diseases (2,70,000). The leading risk factor for total health loss in India in 2019 was child and maternal malnutrition while the second leading risk factor was air pollution.

According to the report, 58 per cent of the total disease burden is due to non-communicable diseases (NCD) — up from 29 per cent in 1990 — while premature deaths due to NCDs have more than doubled from 22 to 50 per cent.

India has gained more than a decade of life expectancy since 1990, rising from 59.6 years to 70.8 years in 2019 — ranging from 77.3 years in Kerala to 66.9 years in UP. The increase in healthy life expectancy in India (60.5 years in 2019), however, has not been as dramatic as growth of life expectancy, so people are living more years with illness and disability.

Since 1990, India has made substantial gains in health, but child and maternal malnutrition is still the top risk factor for illness and death in India, contributing to more than 20 per cent of the total disease burden in several states in northern India (Bihar and UP).

Bhutan, Nepal, and Bangladesh have seen the proportion of total health loss (DALYs) caused by the rise of NCDs by more than 150 per cent since 1990. NCDs now contribute to more than half of all DALYs in the region that was dominated by infectious, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional diseases 30 years ago.

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