Study Shows Achieving Six Risk Factor Targets Will Substantially Reduce NCD Mortality

In 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a political declaration that committed member states to the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which to date cause millions of deaths every year and account for more than half of deaths in every region except sub-Saharan Africa. Participating countries agreed to adopt nine global targets, including an overarching goal of reducing premature mortality from the four main NCDs – cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, cancers and diabetes – by 25 percent relative to their 2010 levels by 2025.

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In a study published May 3 in The Lancet, Vasilis Kontis, PhD, MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health, Department of Epidemiology and Blostatistics, School of Public Heath, Imperial College, London, and his co-authors sought to estimate the contribution of achieving six risk factor targets towards meetings this 25x25 mortality target. Measuring the impact of tobacco use, alcohol use, salt intake, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and obesity on NCD mortality between 2010 and 2025, the authors found that reducing or curbing these risk factors to the globally-agreed target levels could prevent more than 37 million premature deaths over 15 years. By contrast, if these target levels are not met, more than 38 million deaths are estimated to take place in 2025 from the four main NCDs, 10.5 million more than the 28 million who died in 2010.

Further, if the risk factor targets are achieved, the probability of dying from the four main NCDs years will decrease by 22 percent in men and by 19 percent in women between 2010 and 2025, effectively delaying or preventing at least 16 million deaths in people aged 30-70 years and 21 million in those aged 70 years or older over 15 years.

In a coinciding editorial, Rifat Atun, MD, from Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard University, Boston, MA, writes, “With political will and leadership, the 25×25 targets are well within reach. But despite robust evidence, well-proven cost-effective interventions, and a compelling case for action made by [this study] to address risk factors for NCDs to save millions of lives, political apathy prevails. Even with much discourse, meaningful and durable action against NCDs is scarce, with little accountability to achieve the promises made and the targets set at the General Assembly in 2011... None of the innovative financing, which has helped so much to tackle HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, vaccine preventable diseases in children, and more recently maternal health is targeted at NCDs.”

Last fall, a Global Cardiovascular Disease Taskforce – representing the ACC, World Heart Federation, American Heart Association, European Heart Network, European Society of Cardiology, and other global cardiovascular disease experts – released a statement calling for the implementation of plans to help meet the 25x25 targets.

“Moving forward, the College will continue to work with its International Chapters and its counterparts around the globe to make sure that this issue continues to be a strategic priority as part of efforts to improve population health around the world," noted William Zoghbi, MD, MACC, a past president of the ACC and a co-chair of the statement.

Keywords: Neoplasms, Tuberculosis, Social Responsibility, Malaria, Risk Factors, Public Health, Mortality, Premature, Communicable Diseases, Blood Glucose, Maternal Welfare, Obesity, Tobacco Use, United Nations, Hypertension, Diabetes Mellitus, Leadership

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