Press Release WHO/60
24 August 1998
There is a worrying increase in the number of women smokers in the 35-64 age group in many countries which potentially can translate into higher heart attack rates among women, WHO (World Health Organization) experts told today the European Congress of Cardiology in Vienna, Austria.
HEART DISEASE: GOOD AND BAD NEWS
This finding is part of preliminary analysis of the final ten-year results of the largest collaborative study of heart disease ever undertaken (see footnote). The results are drawn from examining 150 thousand heart attacks and 180 thousand risk factor records.
The study reveals that heart disease rates are declining in general, with some Eastern European countries and China bucking the trend. At the present time, there is a much better chance of surviving a heart attack than in the past, due to a range of effective treatments. Also, it appears that, proportionally, men are faring better. Heart disease rates for women are receding more slowly and the increasing numbers of daily smokers in many countries do not augur well for the future.
Looking into other well-established risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels and obesity, the scientists found that in most populations blood pressure is coming down. The reductions in the smoking patterns are not uniform. There are differences by sex and age group in a number of countries. Cholesterol levels are still too high practically in all populations. Having analyzed the available data for the last decade, the researchers concluded that cholesterol levels remain today as high as they were ten years ago. The only noticeable exception is China where the cholesterol levels are either low or within the prescribed norm. Obesity was confirmed in the report as a major risk factor. In most populations investigators found significant increases in the number of overweight men and women.
"Since 1982, the WHO MONICA Project has been on the cutting edge of cardiovascular disease monitoring and population survey technology", explains Dr Ingrid Martin, in charge of the cardiovascular diseases programme at the WHO headquarters in Geneva. "Over the years, the project generated an enormous amount of high quality data which helps us to understand better the relationship between trends in cardiovascular disease and major risk factors."
The global death toll directly attributed to cardiovascular disease is 15 million a year. Heart disease alone is responsible for seven million deaths in the world each year.
Individual reports on the incidence of heart disease and on all major risk factor will be published early next year.
For further information, journalists can contact Mr Valery Abramov, WHO, Geneva. Telephone (+41 22) 791 25 43; Fax (+41 22 ) 791 48 58. E-Mail: email@example.com
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