Chronic diseases and health promotion

Part Three. What works: the evidence for action

Chapter One. A strategy to achieve rapid results

Regional and national success stories

Death rates from the major chronic diseases, especially cardiovascular diseases, have decreased dramatically over the past three decades in several countries in which effective programmes have been introduced, but have increased in countries where no such programmes exist. While Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, for example, have achieved steady declines in heart disease death rates, the rates in other countries, such as Brazil and the Russian Federation, have remained the same or increased (see figure below).

How were these dramatic results achieved? Initial reductions occurred partly as a result of the diffusion of health-related information to the general population. Later, integrated and comprehensive approaches were successfully implemented. These approaches have been used to reduce chronic disease death rates in many countries, demonstrating the feasibility of achieving more widespread success.

Heart disease death rates among men aged 30 years and over, 1950-2002: