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Deaths from cardiovascular disease to rise globally in next decade

The projects are based on current death trends related to smoking, obesity and other lifestyle factors.

By Stephen Feller

SEATTLE, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Early deaths from cardiovascular disease, or CVD, around the world are expected to increase to nearly 8 million per year during the next decade if nations do not address health risks for the condition, according to a new study.

The United Nations goal of reducing premature death from CVD by 25 percent by 2025 is predicated on reducing prevalence of risk factors for the condition, including high blood pressure, tobacco use, obesity and diabetes.

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Although researchers in the study said the United States would continue to see declines in deaths if nothing changes, the declines would still be far short of the U.N. goal.

"We can clearly see what needs to be done over the next decade to reduce cardiovascular death worldwide," said Dr. Gregory Roth, an assistant professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, in a press release. "To have the greatest impact, we need to focus on the leading risk factors in each country. For most, that means healthier diets, more exercise, quitting tobacco, and less binge drinking of alcohol. But it also means investing in high-quality primary care and hospitals because many treatments for heart disease work well and can make a real difference."

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Researchers used data on mortality, risk factor, and relative risk data collected in the Global Burden of Disease, Risk Factors, and Injuries between 1990 and 2013 to project the number of deaths from CVD-related conditions in 188 countries for each year until 2025.

Using numbers of deaths attributable and unattributable to hypertension, tobacco smoking, diabetes mellitus, and obesity, the researchers project about 7.8 million premature deaths in 2025 if people are not motivated globally to change their lifestyles. Projected deaths drop to 5.7 million in 2025 if risk factors involved with CVD are reduced by 26 percent in men and 23 percent in women.

In most countries, reducing hypertension and high blood pressure would have the greatest effect, with reductions in tobacco smoking potentially having the second greatest effect.

Reducing obesity for a small group of countries -- in the United States and Canada, as well as Japan, South Korea and parts of Latin America -- would have the largest impact on reducing these deaths. Reductions in smoking could have the largest impact in the Middle East and Asia Pacific, as well as Western Europe.

Researchers said changes with the potential for the most benefit vary widely by region, because they are based on the specific diets and lifestyles of those places.

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"Countries need to select policies focused on both prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease," said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. "Using the best available data now can help us make decisions that will impact future trends."

The study is published in Circulation.

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