There are a number of illnesses recognised as critical by medical professionals and insurance companies, but some are far more common than others, making them the ones you should be most aware of, both in terms of changing lifestyles and securing appropriate insurance.
This is probably the most common type of critical illness, with approximately 250,000 people currently diagnosed every year and the disease hitting one in three people in the UK within their lifetime – with the most common types including breast, lung and prostate. The survival rates for cancer sufferers have improved significantly in the last few decades, although it is still one of the biggest killers, with 150,000 people killed by cancer every year and it is fatal for one in every four of those diagnosed with it.
Cardiovascular problems are the other most common form of critical illness, with current UK death rates from heart disease standing at roughly 200,000 a year. It is also the most frequent reason for early death. However, around two thirds of those who have a heart attack survive this initial attack for at least five years.
While less common than the illnesses mentioned above, strokes are likely to affect five men in every hundred, and three in every hundred women within the 40-70 age range.
Kidney or renal failure is another common critical illness, one that affects 130,000 people in Britain every year. The symptoms include pain in the back and sides, loss of weight and nausea.
Around 85,000 people in the UK are sufferers of the muscle wasting disease multiple sclerosis, with another 2,500 people diagnosed with it every year – making it another very common critical illness. There is no cure for this disease, with treatment being purely palliative – although those diagnosed can live for a lengthy period.