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10 Fatal Diseases In The Philippines You Should Be Aware Of

According to the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, the Philippines ranked 161 out of 224 in terms of average life expectancy. This 2016 data found that the average life expectancy in the Philippines is 69.2 years. More specifically, life expectancy for males in the Philippines is 65.7 years, while life expectancy for females in the Philippines is a bit higher at 72.9 years.

At first glance, the Philippines’ life expectancy when compared to the rest of the world seems promising; however, there are a variety of fatal diseases and health complications that could impact your health, and reduce your life expectancy. Below we will discuss the top 10 deadliest diseases and sicknesses in the Philippines, and ways you can lower your risk so you can live a life full of health and prosperity.

  1. Coronary Heart Disease

Coronary heart disease has been labelled the “silent epidemic” by some in the medical field, and is responsible for a total of 87,881 deaths in the Philippines each year, which equates to nearly 17% of all deaths annually.  Those who have coronary heart disease have a strong build-up of plaque inside the coronary arteries, preventing blood from reaching the coronary arteries. Coronary heart disease gets worse over time, and can cause angina, heart attacks, heart failure, and arrhythmias.

One of the best ways to prevent coronary heart disease is to live a healthy lifestyle. For instance, make time to exercise, quit smoking, eat healthy, and maintain a healthy weight. In addition, make sure to manage any other health problems you have such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. You can also reduce your risk by reducing stress and taking aspirin.

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  1. Hypertension

According to recent research by the WHO, more than 14 million Filipinos suffer from hypertension. The Philippines comes in at number 11 in terms of the highest amount of fatalities as a result of hypertension, providing the dire need for Filipinos to make active lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of hypertension-related death.

Hypertension, simply referred to as high blood pressure, is extremely hard to diagnose, but can be the cause of other serious health issues such as stroke and kidney disease. Some of the things that cause hypertension you have little control over, such as your age and genetics; however, there are things you can do to reduce the chances of being affected by hypertension. These proactive measures include maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, reducing your salt intake, exercising on a regular basis, limiting alcohol intake, and monitoring your blood pressure.

  1. Stroke

Stroke is the second largest cause of death for Filipinos. According to recent WHO data, strokes in the Philippines account for 63,261 deaths, or 12.14% of deaths each year. Strokes are sometimes referred to as “brain attacks,” and occur when the flow of blood to the brain is cut off. When a stroke occurs, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. If a stroke is not caught early enough, it could lead to permanent brain damage.

WebMD advises that 50% of strokes can be prevented. To help avoid falling victim to a stroke, manage other health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, high cholesterol, and coronary artery disease. In addition, stay away from smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, and maintain a healthy weight and active lifestyle.

  1. Influenza & Pneumonia

World Health Rankings provides that Influenza and Pneumonia deaths in the Philippines account for nearly 10 percent of deaths in the Philippines annually. Influenza and Pneumonia are not the same thing. Influenza is a very contagious virus that produces flu-like symptoms, while pneumonia is an infection that causes your lungs to fill up with fluid and puss. Both can be deadly if left untreated.

The best ways to avoid becoming ill with influenza and pneumonia include avoiding close contact with those that are sick, staying home when you’re sick, washing your hands frequently, and avoid touching your eyes, and nose. Avoiding pneumonia specifically requires catching your symptoms early since pneumonia often follows other respiratory infections. If your symptoms persist for more than a few days, make sure to see a doctor right away.

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  1. Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the leading cause of death among Filipino women, and unknown to many is the fact that the Philippines has the highest number of breast cancer incidents among 197 countries in the world. In addition, the Philippines saw a 589% increase in breast cancer over a 30-year period.

Breast cancer is a very deadly disease, and the ninth highest cause of death in the Philippines. Sadly, one out of four women die within the first five years of diagnosis, and two out of every five Filipino women die after 10 years of diagnosis. There are things you can do to reduce your risk of breast cancer including reducing your alcohol intake, avoid smoking, controlling your weight, maintaining a physical lifestyle, breast-feeding your children, reducing hormone therapy, and avoiding exposure to radiation and pollution.

  1. Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis, often referred to as TB, is responsible for 5% of deaths in the Philippines each year. TB is an extremely contagious infection that attacks the lungs, but has the ability to spread to other parts of the body such as your brain and spine. The symptoms of TB are similar to those of the cold and flu, and must be diagnosed with either a skin or blood test. General symptoms of TB include: a cough that lasts more than three weeks, persistent chest pain, coughing up blood, excessive tiredness, night sweats, chills, fever, loss of appetite, and weight loss.

The World Health Organization estimates that one-third of the world’s population is infected with the bacteria that cause TB. Thankfully, there are things you can do lessen your chances of getting infected with TB such as reducing the amount of time you spend in stuffy enclosed rooms with anyone who has TB, using protective measures such as a face mask if you work in a medical setting, and getting vaccinated against TB.

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  1. Lung Disease

Pollution, chemical inhalation, and smoking are elements that can increase your chances of suffering from lung disease. According to the Philippine Council For Health Research and Development, lung disease and lung cancer is the top cause of cancer-related deaths among males and the third highest cause of cancer-related deaths in females. In fact, according to the World Health Rankings, lung disease accounted for over 16,000 deaths in the Philippines in 2014.

The best way to avoid lung disease and lung cancer is to not start smoking, or stop smoking if you currently do. Secondly, avoid second-hand smoke, and stay away from hookahs and vape pens. Lung disease is preventable, but it all starts with taking proactive steps to take care of yourself and protect your lungs.

  1. Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes Mellitus is the fourth most deadly disease in the Philippines, accounting for over 57,000 deaths annually. Health professionals predicted that the total number of people worldwide with diabetes would reach 320 million by 2025, but that number has already reached over 400 million. According to the International Diabetes Federation, there were over 3.5 million cases of diabetes in the Philippines in 2015. This does not account for the estimated 1.84 million cases that are presumed to be undiagnosed.

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to prevent diabetes such as staying physically active, losing weight, getting plenty of fiber, eating more whole grains, avoiding fad diets, eating less sugar, and getting tested for diabetes annually once you have reached the age of 45.


  1. Kidney Disease

According to the US National Kidney Foundation, kidney disease is responsible for 10 percent of deaths worldwide. Kidney disease is quickly becoming an epidemic in the Philippines. In 2013, there were only around 10,000 Filipinos with kidney disease, but in 2016 this number increased to 14,000. In addition, the Philippine Renal Disease Registry suggests there are over 28,000 Filipinos undergoing dialysis.

On average, kidney disease kills nearly 16,000 people in the Philippines each year. You can reduce your chances of getting kidney disease by not smoking, lowering your alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy weight, losing weight if you are overweight, following a healthy diet, lowering your salt intake, and exercising regularly.

  1. Asthma

More than likely you know someone with asthma. On the surface asthma may seem harmless, but this medical ailment can prove to be deadly if you do not have an inhaler handy at all times. More than 10 million Filipinos suffer from asthma, and sparingly, asthma accounts for over 2% of deaths nationwide.

There is not much you can do to prevent yourself from getting asthma, but there are things you can do to prevent yourself from having an attack such as using allergy-proof bedding, limiting pets’ exposure to your furniture, vacuuming your carpet often, avoiding areas where people smoke, avoiding harsh chemical cleaners, reducing your stress, paying attention to air quality, limiting outdoor exercise, managing seasonal allergies, and above all keeping an inhaler handy should you have an attack.

healthy family

Now that you know the top 10 diseases and medical conditions that cause death in the Philippines, you can make proactive lifestyle choices to reduce your risk of falling victim. In most instances, prevention starts with living a healthy lifestyle, and avoiding behaviors such as smoking, excessive drinking, and weight gain. Aside from healthy living, another safety net you can consider is to get a reliable health insurance provider. Being prepared is always better than getting blindsided with the expenses brought about by these unforeseen circumstances. A common goal that many Filipinos share is the dream to watch children and grandchildren grow up and achieve major life milestones. This is truly possible if you start practicing a healthy lifestyle now.

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