SEATTLE — Since 2005, many of the most common diseases in Antigua and Barbuda have become less prevalent. Here are the top five most common diseases in Antigua and Barbuda, and the directions they are trending in:
- Ischemic Heart Disease
Ischemic heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease, is the most common of diseases in Antigua and Barbuda. A buildup of cholesterol in the arteries can cause “ischemia,” which is when the heart is not getting enough blood and oxygen. Eventually, a patient with ischemic heart disease may suffer a heart attack if the cholesterol blocks an artery. Some risk factors can contribute to ischemic heart disease, including smoking, high blood pressure, obesity and high cholesterol.
Ischemic heart disease remains the number one cause of death in Antigua and Barbuda since 2005. However, its rate has dropped by 8.8 percent since that time. It is also the number one cause of premature death in Antigua and Barbuda, though that figure has dropped by 5.9 percent.
- Cerebrovascular Disease
Cerebrovascular disease is the second-most common of diseases in Antigua and Barbuda. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, “the term cerebrovascular disease includes all disorders in which an area of the brain is temporarily or permanently affected by ischemia or bleeding and one or more of the cerebral blood vessels are involved in the pathological process. Cerebrovascular disease includes stroke, carotid stenosis, vertebral stenosis and intracranial stenosis, aneurysms and vascular malformations.”
The ischemia leading to Cerebrovascular disease can get caused by a ruptured blood vessel (hemorrhage), a blood clot or narrowing or blocking of a blood vessel in the brain. Since 2005, the rate of deaths in Antigua and Barbuda caused by Cerebrovascular disease has dropped by 9.8 percent.
Insulin is the hormone in the human body that takes glucose from food and puts it into cells to get used as energy. If the body does not make enough insulin, or is not effectively using the insulin, then glucose — or blood sugar — stays in the blood unused. When a person’s blood sugar is too high, diabetes occurs. Diabetes is the third-largest cause of death in Antigua and Barbuda. It is also the third-most common disease in Antigua and Barbuda. Compare this to a developed country like the United States, where diabetes is a common disease, yet is the seventh-leading cause of death. The cost of treating diabetes may contribute to its prevalence as a cause of death in smaller or developing countries. The rate of diabetes as a cause of death has decreased in Antigua and Barbuda by 0.9 percent since 2005.
- Lower Respiratory Infection
Lower respiratory infection is the fourth-most common cause of death in Antigua and Barbuda. Unlike the previous three, lower respiratory infection is not a non-communicable disease––that is, a disease that is long lasting and caused by genetic or environmental factors. Lower respiratory infections include acute bronchitis and bronchiolitis, influenza and pneumonia.
These infectious diseases are among the most common causes of death for both adults and children worldwide, and so are common diseases in Antigua and Barbuda as well. However, the rate of these diseases in Antigua and Barbuda as a cause of death has decreased by 8.9 percent since 2005. Furthermore, as a cause of premature death, the rate of lower respiratory infection has dropped in Antigua and Barbuda by 15.9 percent since 2005.
- Prostate Cancer
Unfortunately, the fifth-most common of diseases in Antigua and Barbuda, prostate cancer, has increased in prevalence as a cause of death in Antigua and Barbuda. Death from prostate cancer in Antigua and Barbuda has risen by 1.6 percent since 2005.
As a cause of premature death, the rate of prostate cancer has increased by 7.3 percent in Antigua and Barbuda since 2005 and now is ranked as the ninth most common cause of premature death in the island nation.
Like many countries, the some of the most common diseases in Antigua and Barbuda are noncommunicable, and cause a high number of deaths in the country. However, the decreasing rates of these diseases as causes of death is a testament to Antigua and Barbuda’s developing healthcare system, and to some help that the country has received in that regards.
Seven of the top 10 causes of death in Antigua and Barbuda have decreased in prevalence since 2005; deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have fallen by more than 10 percent in Antigua and Barbuda, and deaths from HIV/AIDS by more than 25 percent.
These successes are due in part by two cooperative agreements that have worked to improve healthcare in Antigua and Barbuda in recent years. Cooperative agreements are like grants, but they allow for more government involvement than a grant in achieving this aim.
From 2006 until 2012, Antigua and Barbuda, among many other nations, began receiving healthcare aid via the Health Systems 20/20 Cooperative Agreement. USAID funded the plan, which was to “address health system barriers to the use of life-saving priority health services.”
Health Systems 20/20 has identified deficiencies in the healthcare system and has made recommendations to the Antiguan government regarding financing and legislating healthcare. Also, from 2009 to 2014, the Strengthening Health Outcomes through the Private Sector cooperative agreement has mandated increased private sector funding for Antigua and Barbuda’s healthcare system.
The numbers tell the story: The government of Antigua and Barbuda, working diligently under these two cooperative agreements, has seriously improved the country’s healthcare system, especially when it comes to diseases in Antigua and Barbuda.
– David Mclellan