While the share of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) from global causes of death in the year 1990 was close to 50% , communicable diseases accounted for more than 20% , and traffic accidents for more than 30%; currently, NCD account for %80 , the share of communicable diseases is more than 10% and traffic accidents contribute to less than 10%.
According to the latest world study of disease burden, the major causes of mortality in Iran comprise of ischemic heart disease, stroke, traffic accidents, hypertension, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic kidney disease, other cardiovascular disorders and gastric cancer. Also, ischemic heart disease, traffic accidents, premature births, congenital defects, neurological diseases, cardiac disease due to hypertension, diabetes, lower respiratory tract infection, self-injury, and other cardiovascular disorders are among the most important causes of premature death in Iran.
The exponential growth of some NCDs in the country, such as heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, chronic diseases of the lung, chronic kidney disease, etc., and the need for undertaking extensive efforts with effective research to support the prevention of the development of chronic NCDs is while the largest cohort study in the Middle East and North Africa took place in Iran and aimed to identify the causes of the high prevalence of esophageal cancer in the Northeast of Iran (Golestan was considered to be the “hot spot” for esophageal cancer in the world); the study achieved significant findings in the field of cancer which led to the formation of a large biobank of data from more than 50,000 individuals on one hand, and important results pertaining to certain NCDs, in particular, heart attacks and brain strokes, hepatitis, chronic kidney disease, etc. on the other hand, which subsequently became an important platform for conducting studies related to other chronic, non-cancerous diseases.
More importantly, several years of follow-up in the Golestan cohort study which aimed to investigate the causes of the occurrence and prevention of esophageal and gastric cancers, revealed that 50% of the people in the region died of heart attacks and strokes. More than 50% have hypertension, and at least 10% have diabetes, with over 60% being overweight and obese while their physical activity has decreased considerably. According to other evidence from this study .70% of subjects have one risk factor, 50% have two risk factors, and 20% have three risk factors for cardiovascular events.
In addition to cardiovascular diseases, and risk factors for myocardial infarction and triansient ischemic attacks, the results of the Golestan cohort study showed that increase in age, being a female, decreased physical activity, obesity, diabetes and hypertension are critical factors in the development of renal diseases. The results showed that 4.6% of people over the age of 50 in the region had moderate and advanced chronic kidney disease, and that this disease is easily preventable with a simple screening test.
The Golestan cohort study also provided an opportunity to evaluate other diseases, such as diabetes, hepatitis B, blood viscosity (hematocrit level), hypertension, etc., all of which have important and influential implications for future studies.
The “chronic and non-communicable disease study / research team” was founded as part of Digestive Diseases Research Institute of Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS) given the necessity of utilizing the results from the Golestan cohort study pertinent to chronic, non-cancerous diseases since 2015. This was done in view of the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases in Iran and with reliance on data from the large cohort study of Golestan, it could make use of this information in conducting new research and publishing internationally credible articles with three goals in mind: helping improve policy making for the health system, prevent the increase of chronic disease incidence, and help promote Iran's scientific development in the field of science production worldwide.The publication of numerous articles in the field of chronic diseases, all of which have been reported in internationally recognized journals, the conduction of research for the production of Polypill pill for the prevention of MIA and TIA, research collaboration on the largest and most precise global study on disease burden, and cooperation towards identifying risk factors with the “chronic and non-communicable disease” research team at Imperial College London, have been among the most important outcomes of the chronic and non-chronic disease research team of the GDRI at TUMS.