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Permit us to take a brief break from the hysteria of the pandemic of COVID19 as we discuss another all- encompassing health topic resulting from our lifestyles.

It is also important to chip in that there is a correlation between the lifestyles and current global pandemic.

Approximately half (49.0%) of the critical patients and affected by preexisting comorbidities such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and oncological diseases, died of C0VID 19 And these comorbodities can arise from our lifestyles.

You would agree with me that Wellness is not a ‘medical fix’ but a way of living – a lifestyle sensitive and responsive to all the dimensions of body, mind, and spirit, an approach to life we each design to achieve our highest potential for well-being now and forever.

And aptly, Mehmetz Oz said,

“Your genetics load the gun. Your lifestyle pulls the trigger”

On this premise, the major aim of this discourse is to highlight those common lifestyles that pull the trigger of our health and we will also proffer solutions/lifestyle modifications for our overall wellness.

The definition

Lifestyle diseases are ailments that are primarily based on the day to day habits of people. Habits that detract people from activity and push them towards a sedentary routine can cause a number of health issues that can lead to numerous chronic non-communicable diseases that can have near life-threatening consequences.

Moving forward , we explore the major lifestyle diseases taking tolls in various systems of the body.


  1. Cardiovascular diseases (CVD)

These are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels and CVDs are the number 1 cause of death globally and account for more than 17 million deaths per year. The number is estimated to rise by 2030 to more than 23 million a year. The common examples of the CVDs include: 

  • coronary heart disease and ischaemic heart disease, which is one of the most common types of heart problems faced today and is characterised by a reduction or blockage in the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. This puts exaggerated strain on the heart, which can lead to:

Angina – chest pain caused by lack of flow of blood to the heart

Heart attacks – caused when the blood flow to the heart is suddenly but completely blocked

Heart failure – the failure of the heart to pump blood properly to the rest of the body

  • Cerebrovascular disease (strokes and TIAs)- Cerebrovascular disease is the disease of blood vessels supplying blood to the brain. When the blood supply to the brain is cut off, a person suffers a stroke, which can be lethal. A transient ischaemic attack, popularly known as a mini-stroke, occurs when the blood supply to the brain is temporarily blocked. This may present as:
  • Blurred or complete loss of vision in one or both eyes
  • One-sided weakness or numbness of the body
  • Sudden memory loss or confusion
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Peripheral arterial disease- This is a disease of blood vessels supplying the arms and legs. It happens when there is a blockage in the arteries to the limbs (usually the legs).

This may present as:

  • Dull or cramping pain that gets worse with walking and better with rest
  • Hair loss on the limbs
  • Numbness or weakness in the limbs
  • Persistent ulcers on the legs and feet
  • Congenital heart disease- This is a problem with the structure of the heart, i.e. malformations of heart structure, that exist at birth. The problem can range from a small hole in the heart to a more severe problem such as a defective heart muscle. Some of the common symptoms are shortness of breath and having trouble exercising. In infants and younger kids, cyanosis, a bluish tint to the skin, fingernails and lips can be an important marker.

Major lifestyle-modifiable Risk Factors for the CVDs

  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal blood lipids
  • Tobacco use
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity Unhealthy diet (salt)
  • Diabetes
  • Heavy alcohol use

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that affects the way the body uses food for energy and physical growth. There are 4 types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, Gestational, and Pre-Diabetes (Impaired Glucose Tolerance).

Type 2 is the most common diabetes in the world and is caused by modifiable behavioural risk factors such as:

  • Unhealthy diets
  • Physical Inactivity
  • Obesity or Overweight
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Psychological stress
  • High consumption of sugar
  • Low consumption of fiber

Cancer affects different parts of the body and is characterised by a rapid creation of abnormal cells in that part and can invade other parts of the body as well. More than 7 million people die of cancer each year and 30% of those diseases are attributed to lifestyle choices.

Follow me as we consider some of these Cancers and their modifiable Risk Factors

  • Cervical cancer:
  • Smoking
  • Human papilloma virus infection (hpv) via sexual promiscuity
  • Immune deficiencies such as HIV Infection via sexual promiscuity
  • Lung cancer
  • Smoking Second hand smoke
  • Radiation therapy
  • Living in air-polluted place
  • Breast cancer
  • Hormone therapies
  • overweight and
  • physical inactivity
  • Prostate cancer
  • Obesity
  • Bad food habits
  • Low intake of fiber
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Insufficient physical activity
  1. Chronic respiratory diseases(CRD)

Some of the most under-diagnosed are the two main types of CRDs. Modifiable Risk Factors

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Dust and chemicals
  • tobacco smoke
  • Air pollution undeniably, our lifestyles affect virtually all the systems of body.

People who participate in unhealthy lifestyle practices also have a more difficult time overcoming depressive episodes and several other systemic diseases including the current global pandemic, COVID19.


This does not require long sermon.

  • Stop smoking
  • Have a balanced diet with plenty of fibre
  • Exercise regularly (>150 minutes of aerobic activity per week)
  • Maintain a healthy weight and body mass index (BMI; aim for a BMI below 25)
  • Quit drug /substance abuse.
  • quit unprotected sex/abstinence for young people.
  • Cut down on alcohol.
  • consult a medical expert

Tying up the knot on this discourse at this juncture, Harley Pasternak said,

“Creating an overall healthy lifestyle for yourself doesn’t require a radical diet or significant life change.

In fact, it can be attained through common sense decisions about the way we eat, move, and live”. Lifestyle diseases are a threat to the socio-economic aspects of nations globally and appropriate actions for their management are the need of the moment.

Management of lifestyle diseases includes proper diagnosis, screening and treatment of these diseases in addition to providing palliative care for people who require it.

Dr. Ezeozue ChibuikeJ writes from Asaba. Nigeria


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