Physicians' Academy for Cardiovascular Education

Hypertension and smoking most important risk factors worldwide

Literature - The Lancet, December 2012

Lancet, December 2012

Findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 (GBD 2010) show that high blood pressure is the single most important risk factor for death and disability, followed by tobacco smoking.
GBD 2010 is the largest ever systematic effort to describe the global distribution and causes of a wide array of major diseases, injuries, and health risk factors. 

Despite significant reductions in the rate of ischemic heart disease and stroke since 1990, overall these retained their position as the number 1 and 2 worldwide causes of death. CV disease was the single largest cause of death among men 15-49 years of age, accounting for 12.8% of all deaths. For women of the same age, CV disease was the third largest cause of death, following HIV/AIDS and other non-communicable diseases, accounting for 10.7% of all deaths.

Ischemic heart disease in 2010 now ranks as the largest single cause of global years of life lost. In 1990 it had ranked fourth, behind lower respiratory infections, diarrhea, and preterm birth complications. Stroke moved from fifth place to third place.

Infectious diseases, maternal and child illness, and malnutrition now cause fewer deaths and less illness than they did twenty years ago. As a result, fewer children are dying every year, but more young and middle-aged adults are dying and suffering from disease and injury, as non-communicable diseases, such as cancer and heart disease, become the dominant causes of death and disability worldwide. Since 1970, men and women worldwide have gained slightly more than ten years of life expectancy overall, but they spend more years living with injury and illness.

The Lancet devoted an entire issue to the study[1], including seven articles containing a wealth of data on different aspects of the study (including data for different countries and world regions, men and women, and different age groups), with accompanying comments including reactions to the study's publication from WHO Director-General Margaret Chan and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.
The collaboration of 486 scientists from 302 institutions in 50 countries has produced an important contribution to our understanding of present and future health priorities for countries and the global community.

1. http://www.thelancet.com/themed/global-burden-of-disease


Figure 1:

Main causes of global DALYs in 1990 and 2010
Data from Murray and colleagues1 and Lim and colleagues.
DALYs=disability-adjusted life years.

Figure

Top five risk factors for poor health in 1990 and 2010
Data from Murray and colleagues1 and Lim and colleagues

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