Located on the Iberian Peninsula, Spain has a population of 46.56 million. Similar to patterns around the world, morbidity and disability in Spain are increasingly caused by non-communicable diseases. Below are five common diseases in Spain.
- Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease is responsible for 33 percent of deaths in Spain. Risk factors include smoking, obesity, lack of exercise, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. In Spain, about 23.9 percent of adults and 21.7 percent of youth smoke. About 26.6 percent of Spaniards are obese.
Following world trends, the number of cancer cases in Spain increased 15 percent between 2012 and 2015. The most common types of cancer in Spain are bowel cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer and bladder cancer. Respectively, every year there are 41,000, 33,000, 28,000, 27,000 and 21,000 new cases. It is estimated that about one-third of these cases can be prevented through improved lifestyle choices such as reducing alcohol and tobacco consumption, increasing cancer screenings and decreasing obesity rates.
- Chronic Respiratory Diseases
Chronic respiratory diseases most common in Spain include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. About 80,000 adults aged 20 to 44 are diagnosed with asthma every year. Eighty percent of these cases do not result from allergies and instead result from lung disorders developed from chewing and smoking tobacco, obesity, air pollution, respiratory infections suffered during childhood, genetics and high risk occupations. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) causes 18,000 deaths per year in Spain or about 50 deaths per day. There are about two million people in the country with COPD but the majority go undiagnosed. A main cause of COPD is smoking. About one-third of Spaniards smoke, and 40 to 55 percent continue to smoke following COPD diagnosis. COPD can lead to emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
- Mental and Behavioral Disorders
Mental illnesses are the second most common cause of temporary and permanent leave from work in Spain. Depression is the most prevalent. About five to 10 percent of Spaniards suffer at least one depressive episode in their lives. Depression and other mental health illnesses have high social impacts because of missed work, costs, morbidity and care.
- Alzheimer’s Disease
In Spain, more than 800,000 people live with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia. Risk factors include age, genetics, mild cognitive impairment and traumatic brain injury. Studies also suggest that education may be linked to Alzheimer’s as well as cardiovascular disease. Between 2005 and 2015, the death rate due to Alzheimer’s increased by 11.9 percent.
Certain cases of the above diseases in Spain can be prevented. For example, smoking is a prevalent cause of non-communicable diseases such as asthma, COPD, cardiovascular disease and lung cancer. Because of this, improving health education in Spain is one way to reduce and prevent these unnecessary medical costs, illnesses and deaths.
– Francesca Montalto