Cardiovascular diseases due to avoidable risk factors cost the lives of several million people worldwide every year. This highlights how important it is to provide better information about the risks of cardiovascular diseases and the options for prevention.
A new special report, recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, provides an assessment of the global, regional and national burden of cardiovascular disease and shows a concerning increase worldwide from 1990 to 2022.
Premature and preventable deaths
In general, rates of cardiovascular disease are very high globally. The data shows the urgent need for countries to develop effective public health strategies to prevent cardiovascular disease, experts said.
“Cardiovascular diseases are an ongoing challenge that leads to an enormous number of premature and preventable deaths,” explains study author Dr. Gregory A. Roth in a press release.
Risk factors for cardiovascular disease?
The team explains that the main causes of cardiovascular disease are still high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, nutritional risks and air pollution.
In their report, the experts assessed 15 leading risk factors for cardiovascular disease worldwide, including various environmental factors such as air pollution, household air pollution, lead exposure, very low temperatures and very high temperatures.
In addition, according to the team, various metabolic factors also play an extremely important role in cardiovascular disease, including systolic blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, body mass index (BMI), fasting plasma glucose and kidney dysfunction.
Another important point are so-called behavioral factors such as diet, smoking, passive smoking, alcohol consumption and physical activity.
Deadly cardiovascular diseases
The main cause of death worldwide from cardiovascular diseases is coronary heart disease, followed by intracerebral hemorrhage and ischemic strokes, the researchers report.
According to experts, in the period from 1990 to 2022, the number of deaths worldwide from cardiovascular diseases increased from 12.4 million to 19.8 million per year. This reflects not only the growth and aging of the global population, but also the burden of avoidable metabolic, environmental and behavioral risks.
In general, Eastern Europe has the highest age-standardized overall mortality rate from cardiovascular diseases, with 553 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.
What role did the risk factors play?
Diet played the most important role in behavioral risks of fatal cardiovascular disease. Deaths from cardiovascular diseases that were attributable to nutritional risks occurred most frequently in Central Asia, Oceania, parts of North Africa and the Middle East, the researchers report.
Among metabolic factors, high systolic blood pressure has the greatest influence on the risk of fatal cardiovascular diseases and the highest age-standardized mortality rates per 100,000 people were found in Central Asia, Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, the research team continued.
According to the experts, among the environmental risks, particulate matter pollution was particularly relevant for the risk of fatal cardiovascular stress.
“We know which risk factors we need to identify and treat and there are simple healthy choices people can make to improve their health,” concludes lead author Professor Dr. Gregory A. Roth from the University of Washington.
There are many cost-effective and effective approaches to combating cardiovascular disease and some simple measures could help to significantly reduce the risk of fatal cardiovascular disease.
“Finding sustainable ways to work with communities and take action to prevent and control modifiable risk factors for heart disease is critical to reducing the global burden of heart disease,” adds study author Dr. George A. Mensah from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). (as)