We’re constantly trying to change our diets and exercise routines to prevent disease, whether these factors are effective or not. If you live in the United States, you’re much less likely to die from an infectious disease, but much more likely to suffer from a chronic illness. These are the deadliest diseases in America (just wait until you see the numbers for the disease with the highest death rate on Page 7).
7. Chronic kidney disease
Your kidneys are responsible for filtering out waste. | iStock.com/HYWARDS
Over 30 million Americans have CKD but don’t know it.
Kidney disease impacts the function of the kidneys, responsible for filtering and removing waste from the body. The disease was the 9th leading cause of death among Americans in 2015.
High blood pressure and diabetes most commonly contribute to chronic kidney disease. In its early stages, CKD progresses without symptoms. Experts refer to it as a “silent” disease, because it’s often diagnosed in later stages and is therefore more difficult to treat.
Most people develop type 2 diabetes. | iStock.com
Your risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases with age.
Diabetes caused more than 75,000 deaths in the United States in 2014 alone. Nearly 13% of adults aged 20 and older live with physician-diagnosed diabetes.
The majority of new cases of diabetes are classified as type 2 — the type that develops when the body stops responding to its own insulin. People over 45 years of age who are physically inactive, overweight, and living with high blood pressure are most likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
5. Chronic liver disease or cirrhosis
About 4 million adults live with chronic liver disease. | iStock.com/sankalpmaya
Heavy alcohol use isn’t the only risk factor for liver disease.
Approximately 4 million adults live with chronic liver disease. A little over 38,000 people died from the disease or related complications in 2014.
Surprisingly, heavy alcohol use isn’t the only risk factor for developing liver disease. Diabetes, high levels of triglycerides in the blood, and obesity also increase your risk. CLD often progresses into liver failure, which can be life-threatening.
4. Alzheimer’s disease
A variety of factors play a role in developing alzheimers. | iStock.com
There might be something you can do to decrease your dementia risk.
Approximately 1 in 10 adults aged 65 or older live with Alzheimer’s disease. About 93,000 people died from the disease in 2014.
Family history, genetics, and age all play a role in your Alzheimer’s risk — and there’s nothing you can do about it. However, some research suggests taking good care of your heart and protecting yourself against heart disease could keep your brain healthy in the long-term.
Smoking is linked to 80% of COPD deaths. | Matt Cardy/Getty Images
If you stopped smoking, your COPD risk would drop significantly.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) killed more than 3 million people around the world in 2005. COPD increases your risk of heart disease, and puts you at a higher risk of developing illnesses like influenza and pneumonia.
Smoking is linked to about 80% of COPD deaths. Sometimes, it’s a result of exposure to chemical fumes. Your risk of developing COPD decreases significantly if you give up smoking, or never smoke at all.
Different factors depend on your risk of developing certain cancers. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Diet and exercise decrease your cancer risk over time.
Nearly 600,000 Americans died as a result of various types of cancer in 2014. Some of the deadliest types of cancer in the U.S. include cancers of the ovaries, breast, kidneys, and lungs.
Cancer risk factors generally depend on the type. However, monitoring your alcohol intake, staying active, and maintaining a healthy diet and weight decrease your risk for many cancers. Factors you can’t control include your age and genetics.
1. Heart disease
A poor diet will increase your risk of developing heart disease. | iStock.com
Heart disease kills more people per year than any other disease.
This disease is the No. 1 killer among both men and women in the U.S. It’s responsible for approximately 1 in every 4 deaths every single year.
Your risk for developing heart disease or having a heart attack or stroke increases if you are inactive or follow a poor diet. People living with diabetes, who abuse alcohol, or who are overweight or obese also have a higher risk of dying from all associated diseases.
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