McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Stemming the global tsunami of cardiovascular disease

Published: February 4, 2011
Sonia Anand
Sonia Anand, associate professor of medicine, clinical epidemiology and biostatistics
Salim Yusuf
Dr. Salim Yusuf, professor of medicine and director of McMaster’s Population Health Research Institute

A high-level commitment to mass remedies for cardiovascular disease is required by world leaders, to stem the health problems caused by the increasing obesity among men and women in all regions of the world, say McMaster researchers Salim Yusuf and Sonia Anand.

In the current issue of The Lancet, the two professors comment on the results of three reports describing global population-level changes in body-mass index (BMI), systolic blood pressure, and total cholesterol over three decades. The reports, prepared by the Global Burden of Metabolic Risk Factors of Chronic Diseases Collaborating Group, also found cardiovascular disease has increased in incidence in low-income and middle-income countries, while cardiovascular disease has declined in several high-income countries.

The major modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease are known, and their impact is similar in most regions of the world, say the two professors of medicine who are members of the Population Health Research Institute of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences.

The researchers point out that the contrasting trends for obesity, blood pressure and total cholesterol suggest that directly controlling blood pressure, total cholesterol, and smoking will lead to rapid and substantial reductions in cardiovascular disease rates even while obesity (and diabetes) might be increasing.

"Focusing on controlling these three risk factors (blood pressure, total cholesterol, and smoking) will rapidly and to a large extent reduce cardiovascular disease globally within a few years, while we continue our efforts to stem and ultimately reverse the tide of obesity, which will need more prolonged and societal-based interventions over decades."

They suggest the issue be addressed by world leaders at the UN General Assembly on chronic non-communicable diseases scheduled for September this year.

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