US Pharm. 2024;49(2):1.

A world without cardiovascular disease (CVD) is possible, yet millions of lives are lost prematurely to heart disease each year, according to the new Global Burden of Disease (GBD) special report published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The report provides an update of health estimates for the global, regional, and national burden and trends of CVD from 1990 to 2022 by analyzing the impact of cardiovascular (CV) conditions and risk factors across 21 global regions.

Research from this study reflects an urgent need for countries to establish public-health strategies aimed at preventing CVDs by underscoring the global action needed to disseminate information and implement health programs. While CVD rates are high globally, regions of Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East were estimated to have the highest burden of CVD mortality. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, dietary risks, and air pollution remain its leading causes.

“Cardiovascular diseases are a persistent challenge that lead to an enormous number of premature and preventable deaths,” said Gregory A. Roth, MD, MPH, senior author and an associate professor in the Division of Cardiology and director of the Program in Cardiovascular Health Metrics at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

“There are many inexpensive, effective treatments,” Dr. Roth said. “We know what risk factors we need to identify and treat. There are simple healthy choices that people can make to improve their health. This atlas provides detailed information on where countries stand in their efforts to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases.”

Mortality rates are broken down by location, age, sex, and time categories. The report identifies disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), the years of life lost due to premature mortality, and years lived with disability. The results presented include several updates to previously published estimates, reflecting new data and new disease-modeling methods.

The paper addresses 18 CV conditions and provides estimates for 15 leading risk factors for CVD: environmental (air pollution, household air pollution, lead exposure, low temperature, high temperature); metabolic (systolic blood pressure, LDL-C, BMI, fasting plasma glucose, kidney dysfunction); and behavioral (dietary, smoking, secondhand smoke, alcohol use, physical activity).

Among the key takeaways from the report are that ischemic heart disease remains the leading cause of global CVD mortality, with an age-standardized rate per 100,000 of 108.8 deaths, followed by intracerebral hemorrhage and ischemic stroke. High systolic blood pressure accounted for the largest contribution to attributable age-standardized CVD DALYs at 2,564.9 per 100,000 worldwide.