Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Hong Kong's Top 10 Killers

In future, Hong Kong will have more age-related diseases, particularly dementia
Hong Kong people are living longer and dying from more age-related diseases.

The Health Department released figures that show the number of Hong Kong people killed by the top 10 diseases rose by 18 percent to 36,552 last year from 31,001 in 2003.

This is in line with the city's population growth which is now at 7.25 million, and the number of people aged 65 and over rose 19 percent to 978,000 last year.

Because of medical advances, people are suffering less from diabetes (356 last year, 783 in 2003), but age-related diseases like dementia have increased significantly (1,000 in 2013, 256 in 2003).

Cancer is still the number one killer, claiming 40 percent of deaths, followed by pneumonia and heart disease.

On the upside, fewer people are dying from cancer because it is detected earlier from regular health checks and treatments are more targeted than before, according to Dr Daniel Chua Tsin-tien, associate director of the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital's radiotherapy department.

He added that bad habits, pollution and lack of exercise also contribute to rising cancer cases.

Alzheimer's disease expert Wilfred Leung Chi-hang says while the number of those who died from dementia might seem low, the elderly died from its complications.

"More cases of dementia are expected as the city sees a longer life expectancy and an aging population," he said.

Dementia damages the brain's cognitive abilities, affecting thinking and reasoning, and in severe stages, the brain damage can lead to organ failure.

Leung says there is a shortage of facilities for the age-related syndrome, with only about 10 percent of suffers receiving specialist care.

He added there were only 30 day-care centres in Hong Kong, mostly self-financed, that offer treatment, but it costs about HK$6,000 a month so not many can afford it.

"We hope that the government can increase resources and support towards dementia patients," said Leung. "We hope that at least patients will be able to enjoy a better quality of life with their family in the early stages of the condition before it turns severe and [they become] unable to communicate."

While it's frightening to see cancer is still in the top spot, it's heartening to know other diseases are about the same or less. Dementia is another scary disease to have since no cure has been found and there are many different kinds of dementia.

The Hong Kong government is concerned about its growing aging population, but what it's doing to manage and prevent age-related diseases has yet to be seen...

Top 10 causes of death in 2013

1. Cancer
2. Pneumonia
3. Diseases of heart
4. Cerebrovascular diseases
5. Chronic lower respiratory diseases
6. External causes of morbidity and mortality
7. Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis
8. Dementia
9. Septicaemia
10. Diabetes mellitus

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