Chronic Disease Patterns in Developing Countries
Interesting global trends exist worldwide when examining health patterns in developed and developing countries. When examining chronic disease patterns, especially diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD), the rates continue to increase and threaten the nation’s ability to improve its population’s health (Holtz, 2019). Multiple social, economic, and behavioral factors intertwine to create these conditions and changes in patterns (Purnell, 2013).
Compared to their counterparts in wealthy nations, working-age persons in less developed nations have less access to preventative treatment, are more exposed to health risks such as air pollution, inadequate nutrition, and lax anti-smoking regulations, and are more likely to develop chronic diseases (Purnell, 2013). In the last 20 years, chronic illness deaths have increased by more than 50% in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), according to a report from the Council on Foreign Relations (Tavernise, 2014). The rise is a result of a change in the patterns of mortality around the world, where infectious diseases, such as malaria and tuberculosis (TB), have significantly decreased and are no longer the primary causes of death within these underdeveloped countries (Tavernise, 2014).
When examining the CVD and diabetes rates in developing countries, chronic diseases disproportionately strike younger populations in developing countries (Tavernise, 2014). Likewise, once afflicted with chronic diseases in developing countries, the individual has limited payment resources and is more likely to die as a result of the disability from the chronic disease state (Purnell, 2013). Lower-income countries report that approximately 40 percent of their deaths from chronic diseases occur in people younger than 60 years old, compared to 13 percent in developed countries (Tavernise, 2014).
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the primary cause of death in affluent nations and one of the main contributors to the disease burden in emerging nations (Gaziano et al., 2010). The LMIC accounted for three-fourths of all CHD-related deaths worldwide (Anand et al., 2020). The rapid growth in the prevalence of CHD in most of these nations is caused by socioeconomic status (SES) change, an increase in life expectancy, and the acquisition of risk factors connected to a more prominent lifestyle (Healthy People 2020, 2022). As obesity continues to increase globally, so does the prevalence of diabetes and heart disease (Purnell, 2013). The incidence of diabetes in low-income countries has been steadily increasing, with four out of five of the world’s diabetics living in developing countries (Tavernise, 2014).
While improving access to effective therapies will help ease the burden of the disease process, if effective preventative services and lifestyle changes are not undertaken, the management strategies will be useless (Purnell, 2013). If the patterns continue, it might have serious repercussions, such as catastrophic health costs and impoverishment among already low-income communities (Gaziano et al., 2010). At the national level, the result could reduce economic productivity and put further strain on already overburdened health systems (Purnell, 2013). Limited funding prevents many treatments and preventative strategies and lessens the chances of favorable outcomes by more than 80 percent (Anand et al., 2020).
Chronic diseases continue to plague our world and threaten every nation’s ability to improve its population health (Healthy People 2020, 2022). Although these trends were once associated with developed nations, the presence of chronic disease health issues has become the focus in many developing countries (Gaziano et al., 2010). Critical lifestyle interventions are needed to mitigate the burden of injury from these prevalent disease conditions (Holtz, 2019). There is power in prevention and preventative strategies aimed at health improvement, and disease prevention is a starting point for the reformative health status of every nation’s people (Healthy People 2020, 2022).
Anand, S., Bradshaw, C., & Prabhakaran, D. (2020). Prevention and management of CVD in LMICs: Why do ethnicity, culture, and context matter? BMC Medicine, 18, 7. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-019-1480-9
Gaziano, T.A., Bitton, A., Anand, S., Abrahams-Gessel, S., & Murphy, A. (2010, February). Growing epidemic of coronary heart disease in low- and middle-income countries. Current Problems in Cardiology, 35(2):72-115. https://doi: 10.1016126969