The UK has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. Despite currently being in one of the most difficult periods of its history, the NHS is still able to provide life-saving treatment to those who need it, and it is still widely regarded as one of the most-treasured institutions in the UK.
As well as this, the UK is also home to a large number of excellent private healthcare providers. Unfortunately, there are some diseases that we don’t have a cure for, and others which are particularly hard to treat, meaning some diseases that get the better of us more often than others.
Here are the UK’s deadliest diseases:
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
There are 850,000 people currently living with dementia in the UK, a number which is expected to rise to over two million by 2050. Out of these, 60-80% are Alzheimer’s disease. It is caused by brain cell damage, which prevents sufferers from being able to communicate, think, feel or behave as they normally would do. The damage that causes dementia is often permanent, and the effects tend to worsen over time.
However, if certain issues, including depression, excessive drinking, and vitamin deficiencies are addressed, some of the symptoms such as thinking and memory problems may improve.
Liver disease is the fifth-largest killer in the UK, and is the third most common cause of premature death. It currently affects two million people in the UK and this number is expected to rise, with a recent study revealing that it is already predicted to become the number one cause of premature death by 2020.
Poor lifestyle choices are the main cause of this, particularly excessive drinking and obesity. Viral hepatitis is also a main cause of liver disease, so if you are at risk of being infected by hepatitis, you should look at getting a hepatitis B vaccination as soon as you can.
Lung disease is one of the top three biggest killers in the UK. It is responsible for 115,000 deaths a year – that’s one every five minutes. One-in-five people in the UK have been diagnosed with a lung disease, but despite this, there has been little improvement in mortality rates over the past 10 years.
Predictably, many cases of lung disease are caused by smoking. It is to blame for 85% of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) cases. Most other cases of COPD are caused by exposure to fumes, chemicals or dust.
Cancer accounts for 28% of deaths in the UK, with almost half of these being caused by lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer and bowel cancer. Thankfully, cancer survival rates in the UK are improving, as the NHS still say that more than one in three people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime.
Although cancer is deadly, roughly a third of cases are preventable by making better lifestyle choices. Cancer Research says that smoking, heavy drinking and a poor diet are all linked to the development of cancer. They also say that overexposure to the sun and UV rays can lead to the development of skin cancer, so try to ration the time you spend on sunbeds, keep a balanced diet, and cut out smoking to reduce your chances of getting cancer.
Heart disease and heart conditions are amongst the leading causes of premature deaths in the UK. According to cholesterol charity Heart UK, coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in under-65s in the UK, causing over 23,000 premature deaths, with a total of 160,000 dying from heart and circulatory diseases every year.
As with cancer, many cases of heart disease are preventable. Smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol can all lead to heart disease, as can heavy drinking, being overweight and a lack of exercise. Exercise alone can reduce your chances of getting heart disease by 30%, so try to exercise regularly, stay at a healthy weight and cut out bad habits such as smoking and heavy drinking.
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