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Health and Financial Wellness

Staying Alive: Critical Illnesses You should Be Aware Of

With proper care and attention that one pays to his or her own body, these critical illnesses can be prevented or at least diagnosed at its very early stages in order to be successfully treated.

Critical illness is considered a disease or health disorder that puts one’s life in serious danger and may lead to death. Not only are critical illnesses generally painful to bear or endure for an individual, but they also put a lot of strain on finances and one’s support group such as loved ones and friends. Critical illnesses also take away the productivity of otherwise healthy members of society.

That is why it is extremely important that critical illnesses are addressed as a public health problem. Additionally, many such illnesses are actually preventable. Experts remind that keeping a generally healthy lifestyle can prevent a lot of diseases and medical conditions. Avoiding tobacco and alcohol, getting adequate sleep, engaging in physical activities, eating nutritious foods and avoiding extreme stress can all help in avoiding major health problems.

In the Philippines, latest statistics as of 2017 show a number of commonly encountered critical illnesses that are the leading causes of death among Filipinos. These are:

  • Heart Disease

Diseases of the heart ranked as the top cause of death in the country. Ischemic heart disease pertains to health conditions caused by the narrowed arteries or blood vessels of the heart. Because of this, sufficient blood and oxygen are not able to reach the heart, which usually leads to a heart attack.

Ischemia often manifests as symptoms of discomfort or pain in the chest known as angina pectoris. However, there is also a condition known as silent ischemia where an individual does not feel anything unusual and may suffer a heart attack without warning.

  • Cancer

Neoplasms or cancers are the second leading cause of death among Filipinos. Cancer is characterized by the development and spread of abnormal cells across the body, destroying normal healthy tissues. As such, the disease usually manifests symptoms such as dramatic loss of weight, fatigue, persistent cough or visible changes in the body.

Among the most common types of cancers among Filipino are those of the breast, lungs, colon, liver and prostate. The rate of cervical cancer among Filipino women is also quite high. There are certain risk factors associated with developing cancer, such as age, lifestyle and family history. It is important to be mindful of one’s body and to seek medical attention early enough to detect any cancer in the body and to successfully address it.

  • Cerebrovascular Disease

Cerebrovascular diseases are conditions involving the flow of blood to the brain. When impaired, loss of oxygen supply to the brain may be fatal. Brain cells may die and since they are not able to regenerate, permanent damage may occur and result to physical, mental and cognitive disabilities. Cerebrovascular diseases include what are most commonly known as a stroke as well as other conditions such as an aneurysm, thrombosis or clot formation, embolism or blockages, and hemorrhage or the rupturing of blood vessels.

In health emergencies such as these, time is of the essence as ischemia or lack of enough blood flowing into the brain is what causes severe damage to the body and its functions.

There are many other critical illnesses that are among the top causes of deaths among Filipinos, such as pneumonia, diabetes, hypertension and other respiratory illnesses. Again, the good news is that these health conditions are not entirely unavoidable. With proper care and attention that one pays to his or her own body, these critical illnesses can be prevented or at least diagnosed at its very early stages in order to be successfully treated.


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  2. Registered Deaths in the Philippines, 2017 [Internet]. Philippine Statistics Authority. 2020 [cited 26 June 2020]. Available from: https://psa.gov.ph/vital-statistics/id/138794

  3. Cerebrovascular Disease – Classifications, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatments [Internet]. American Association of Neurological Surgeons. 2020 [cited 26 June 2020]. Available from: https://www.aans.org/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Cerebrovascular-Disease

  4. Silent Ischemia and Ischemic Heart Disease [Internet]. American Heart Association. 2020 [cited 26 June 2020]. Available from: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/about-heart-attacks/silent-ischemia-and-ischemic-heart-disease

  5. Cancer - Symptoms and causes [Internet]. Mayo Clinic. 2020 [cited 26 June 2020]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20370588

  6. Trinidad A. Cancer in My Community: Overcoming Cancer Care Barriers in the Philippines [Internet]. Cancer.Net. 2020 [cited 26 June 2020]. Available from: https://www.cancer.net/blog/2019-06/cancer-my-community-overcoming-cancer-care-barriers-philippines