Health and well-being are influenced by many factors: those associated with poor health, disability, illness or death are known as risk factors. , condition, or behavior that increases the likelihood of contracting a disease or injury. Risk factors are often presented individually, however in practice they do not occur alone.
They often coexist and interact with each other. For example, a lack of physical activity will over time cause weight gain, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels. Together, these factors will significantly increase the likelihood of developing chronic heart disease and other related problems.
Aging populations and longer life expectancy have led to an increase in (chronic) disease and disability in the long term with high therapeutic costs.
There is a growing demand for health care which puts the sector under pressure from a budget point of view, which is not always respected. It is important that society and users of the health system understand the causes and risk factors behind diseases, so that they can actively participate in prevention and therapeutic programs available at low cost.
In general, the risk factors can be divided into the following groups of categories:
They are described in more detail below.Types of risk factor
Behavioral risk factorsBehavioral risk factors are usually associated with “actions” that the individual has chosen to take. They can then be eliminated or reduced through lifestyle or behavioral choices. Examples of such risk factors include:consumption of smoking tobacco
excessive consumption of alcohol
nutritional choiceslack of physical activityprolonged periods of exposure to the sun without adequate protectionlack of certain vaccinationsunprotected sex.
Physiological risk factors
Physiological risk factors are those relating to the organism or individual biology. They can be affected by a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and other generic factors. Examples of such risk factors include:
- being overweight or obese
- high blood pressure
- high blood cholesterol levels
- high blood sugar (glucose) levels.
Demographic risk factorsDemographic risk factors are those relating to the general population. Examples of such risk factors include age sex population subgroups, such as employment, religion or income.
Environmental risk factors
Environmental risk factors cover a wide range of issues such as social, economic, cultural and political factors as well as physical, chemical and biological factors. Examples of such risk factors include:
- access to clean water and hygiene
- risks in the workplace
- air pollution
- social environment.
Genetic risk factors
Genetic risk factors are associated with an individual’s genes. Some diseases, such as cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy, originate entirely from an individual’s genetic makeup. Many other diseases, such as asthma or diabetes, reflect the interaction between the individual’s genes and environmental factors. Other diseases, such as sickle cell anemia, are more prevalent in certain subgroups of the population.