High blood pressure top risk factor in heart disease deaths

High blood pressure is the leading risk factor for death from cardiovascular disease (CVD) around the world, according to a new study led by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers. The report provides a global view of how blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, and obesity have contributed to deaths from CVD, chronic kidney disease, and diabetes between 1980 and 2010.

The study was published May 19, 2014 in The Lancet Endocrinology & Diabetes.

The report’s lead author is Goodarz Danaei, assistant professor in the Department of Global Health and Population and Department of Epidemiology at HSPH. Danaei is part of the Global Burden of Metabolic Risk Factors for Chronic Diseases Collaboration who issued the report. Majid Ezzati of the Imperial College London and adjunct professor of global health at HSPH, is senior author.

Among the findings:

  • Four modifiable risk factors of cardiovascular disease (blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, and obesity) account for 63% of mortality from CVD worldwide, with large differences across regions.
  • Mortality due to high body mass index (BMI) has doubled since 1980 globally.
  • Despite effective and cheap drugs, high blood pressure remains the most important metabolic risk factor for CVD globally and in most regions.
  • 82% of deaths attributable to the four risk factors occur in low-and-middle income countries, especially in East and Southeast Asia, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe.
  • The share of “premature” deaths (below age 70) caused by these risk factors is highest in South Asia (55%) and sub-Saharan Africa (58%).

Read study: Cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and diabetes mortality burden of cardiometabolic risk factors from 1980 to 2010: a comparative risk assessment

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HSPH Nutrition Source: Cardiovascular disease