The Global Burden of Cardiovascular Disease

The Global Burden of Diseases (GBD), Injuries, and Risk Factors 2015 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology provides an updated snapshot of the state of cardiovascular disease over the last 25 years – and reaffirms that it continues to be a significant public health concern worldwide despite impressive advances in technical capacity for preventing and treating cardiovascular diseases.

The GBD is an international consortium of more than 2,300 researchers in 133 countries that employed a wide range of data sources and methods to produce age-, sex- and country-specific results for the years 1990 to 2015. The study offers “a unique platform for tracking rapidly evolving patterns in cardiovascular disease epidemiology and their relationship to demographic and socioeconomic change,” write the study authors, led by Gregory Roth, MD, MPH, FACC. They note that “future updates of the GBD study can be used to guide policymakers who are focused on reducing the overall burden of noncommunicable disease and achieving specific global health targets.”

More Reasons to Address NCDs?

One of the suggestions from the GBD study is for countries to consider further investment in cardiovascular disease surveillance and population-based registries to benchmark their efforts towards reducing the burden of cardiovascular disease. In a related editorial comment, Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, FACC, agrees, describing a shift in the noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) plaguing the global population. “These findings confirm that the epidemiologic ‘transition’ away from infectious and maternal-child diseases and toward noncommunicable chronic diseases has already occurred globally — a sobering reality as countries around the world consider their priorities for health care, public health prevention, and economic growth,” he writes. Moving forward, he suggests the implementation of policies targeting lifestyle behaviors, particularly smoking, suboptimal diet and physical inactivity.

As a member of the World Heart Federation and NCD Alliance, the ACC is working with other medical societies around the world to support the “25 by 25” target, as well as corresponding NCD targets focused on high blood pressure, smoking cessation, diabetes, obesity and reliable access to medicines. Thomas A.Gaziano, MD, FACC, and John Gordon Harold, MD, MACC, recently represented the ACC in Geneva, Switzerland, at the 70th session of the World Health Assembly where NCDs were a focus of discussions. Read their accounts of the meeting at

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Keywords: ACC Publications, Cardiology Magazine, Cardiovascular Diseases, Global Health

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