A non-communicable disease, or NCD, which by definition is non-infectious and non-transmissible among people. Risk factors such as a person's background; lifestyle and environment are known to increase the likelihood of certain non-communicable diseases. This means, even if a person’s family has no history of these NCDs, he/she still is at a risk of developing NCD because of his/her poor lifestyle habits.

They include exposure to air pollution, and behaviours such as smoking, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity which can lead to hypertension and obesity, in turn leading to increased risk of many NCDs. Most NCDs are considered preventable because they are caused by modifiable risk factors (Source: WHO).

The WHO's World Health Report 2002 identified five important risk factors for non-communicable disease in the top ten leading risks to health. These are raised blood pressure, raised cholesterol, tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and overweight.

non-communicable disease

As per New WHO report “Deaths from non-communicable diseases on the rise, with developing world hit hard”, in 2008 alone, NCD's were the cause of 63% of deaths worldwide; a number that is expected to rise considerably in the near future if measures are not taken. If present growth trends are maintained, by 2020, NCDs will attribute to 7 out of every 10 deaths in developing countries.

It has been estimated that if the primary risk factors were eliminated, 80% of the cases of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes and 40% of cancers could be prevented. Efforts focused on better diet and increased physical activity have been shown to control the prevalence of NCDs