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Non-communicable diseases

A brief guide to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and their impact globally and in Bangladesh.


  • NCDs – diseases that cannot be passed from person to person – include cardiovascular diseases (e.g. heart attacks and stroke), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma) and diabetes.
  • Smoking, lack of physical activity, misuse of alcohol and unhealthy diets all increase the risk of dying from an NCD.
  • Four key metabolic/physiological changes increase the risk of NCDs: raised blood pressure (hypertension), overweight/obesity, high blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia) and high levels of fat in the blood  (hyperlipidemia).
  • In 2014, more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight; of these, over 600 million were obese.
  • In 2014, 39% of adults were overweight, and 13% were obese.
  • 42 million children under five years ofage were overweight or obese in 2013.
  • NCDs cause 36 million deaths every year, including 29 million in low- and middle-income countries.
  • NCDs are the leading cause of death in the world, accounting for63% of all annual deaths.
  • Some 16 million NCD deaths occur before the age of 70 – 82% of these ‘premature’ deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries; 9 million NCD deaths occur before the age of 60.
  • In South Asia, NCDs account for around half of annual mortality and burden of disease.
  • NCDs also pose a huge threat to development and economic growth; they will cost health systems globally an estimated US$30 trillion by 2030.

In Bangladesh…

  • NCDs account for an estimated 59% of total deaths in Bangladesh – 886,000 deaths a year.
  • In Bangladesh, 48% of men smoke; 20% of men and 32% of women have raised blood pressure.
  • There were 7.1 million cases of diabetes in Bangladesh in 2015; a further 3.7 million cases may go undiagnosed.
  •  An estimated 129,000 deaths were attributed to diabetes in 2015.








Chowdhury MA, Uddin MJ, Haque MR, Ibrahimou B. Hypertension among adults in Bangladesh: evidence from a national cross-sectional survey.BMC CardiovascDisord. 2016;16:22.