Targeting Four Risk Factors May Help Reduce Premature Deaths From CVD

Aggressive strategies are needed to achieve targets set by the World Health Organization (WHO) to reduce the risk of premature noncommunicable disease death by 25 percent by 2025. Notably, focusing on four main risk factors – high blood pressure, smoking, obesity and diabetes mellitus – may help meet this goal, according to a study published May 9 in Circulation.

In 2011, the WHO established eight targets in the prevention, control and treatment of six risk factors. Six of the targets directly align with traditional cardiovascular disease and stroke risk factors: tobacco use, sodium intake, physical inactivity, raised blood pressure, diabetes mellitus/obesity and a management target directed at the treatment of individuals at high risk of cardiovascular disease. With these targets in mind, the authors – comprised of members of the Global Cardiovascular Disease Taskforce – looked at data from the 2013 Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study, which creates estimates of death and disability over time by sex and age for all countries.

Using the GBD data, they estimated that in 2025, assuming that trends in the selected risk factors continue, 5,009,492 premature deaths from cardiovascular disease among men and 2,769,945 among women will occur. This represents an increase of 34 percent in men and 30 percent in women from the 2013 numbers, respectively. However, the number of premature deaths resulting from cardiovascular disease among men and women across all regions would decrease markedly if the 25 by 25 targets for raised blood pressure, smoking, obesity and diabetes mellitus were achieved by 2025.

The key finding of the study, the authors assert, is that, “globally and for almost all regions, targeting all four of these risk factors leads to greater reductions in cardiovascular disease death than targeting any single risk factor.” The authors acknowledge that the impact of the WHO 25 by 25 priority targets differ significantly by world region.

Moving forward, the authors conclude that countries and regions must set priorities, develop cost-effective strategies, and collaborate with multiple entities in order to achieve the 25 by 25 goal and reduce the projected >7.8 million premature deaths projected worldwide by 2025.

“Our study highlights the tremendous opportunities we have in reducing premature cardiovascular mortality worldwide,” says William A. Zoghbi, MD, MACC, a co-author of the study, past president of the ACC and co-chair of the Global Task Force on Cardiovascular Disease. “While risk factors are overall similar globally, the particular needs, opportunities and impact on outcome vary depending on which region of the world you live in.” 

< Back to Listings