10 Human Diseases

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Disease is a pathological condition of one or more of the body's systems, usually due to infection, genetic defect or environmental stress. In 2009, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention noted that there were 10 diseases most associated with deaths of Americans. Some of these diseases can be prevented by adopting a healthier lifestyle, others are hereditary. Many are a direct effect of cigarette smoking or alcohol abuse.

1. Heart Disease

Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans. There are several types of heart disease. Some are hereditary and some are caused by lifestyle choices. Coronary artery disease develops when plaque builds up in the arteries, blocking adequate blood flow to the heart. Congenital heart disease is more of a defect that a disease as the vessels of the heart don't develop properly prior to birth. Congenital heart disease can affect adults and children. Another heart disease, congestive heart failure, usually develops over a long period of time. Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) can lead to heart attack and stroke.

2. Cancer

Also called malignant neoplasms, there more than 100 types of cancer. The types of cancer that kill the most people are lung cancer (159,390 annually), colon and rectal cancer (49,920), female breast cancer (40,170), pancreatic cancer (35,240), and prostate cancer (27,360).

3. Cerebrovascular Diseases

Cerebrovascular diseases affect the brain and blood vessels. The most common cerebrovascular disease is stroke, which occurs when the brain is affected by either the inability to receive adequate blood supply or bleeding in the brain.

4. Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease

The fourth deadliest disease in America is chronic lower respiratory disease. These diseases are often caused directly by cigarette smoking and include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a progressive disease that makes it hard to breathe; emphysema, a disease that reduces the lung's ability to expel air; and chronic bronchitis, an irritation of the bronchi or branches of the lungs. Asthma, an inflammation and narrowing of the airways of the lungs, is also considered a chronic lower respiratory disease and often begins in childhood.

5. Diabetes

Diabetes is the body's inability to properly use or manufacture insulin, necessary for transporting sugar from the blood. Type 1 can occur in adults and children and is hereditary. Type 2 is often the result of lifestyle choices and occurs later in life.

6. Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disease that kills brain cells, slowly robbing a person of memories and the ability to reason.

7. Influenza & Pneumonia

Influenza, or the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness that causes fever, cough and body aches. It can be prevented by getting a vaccination. Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that causes inflammation and a buildup of fluid.

8. Nephritis

Nephritis is an inflammation of one or both kidneys. The causes of nephritis are varied. Nephritis can advance to kidney failure and require a person to have dialysis as the kidneys are no longer able to filter toxins from the body.

9. Septicemia

Septicemia is also known as blood poisoning. It occurs when the blood becomes infected with bacteria and is often the result of an infection in another part of the body.

10. Chronic Liver Disease

The most common chronic liver diseases are cirrhosis, a long-term diminishing of function of the liver most commonly associated with alcoholism, and fibrosis, an overgrowth of scar tissue due to infection.

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