WHO Atlas on coronary heart disease world wide prevalence – a summary

 “Misfortunes always come in by a door that has been left open for them.” Czechoslovakian proverb

The World Health Organization’s Atlas for Heart Disease and Stroke illustrates that globally in 2002 coronary heart disease (CHD) accounted for 6.8% and 5.3% of Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) in men and women respectively. DALYs are the same as years of life lost to disability and death, and therefore suggest a more meaningful way of projecting disease burden as opposed to simply the resulting death. The burden of CHD is expected to rise from 47 million DALYs in 1990 to 82 million DALYs in 2020 [1]. These figures are similar to HIV/AIDS and unipolar depressive disorders. CHD is now the leading cause of death worldwide and knows no borders. 3.8 million men and 3.6 million women die from CHD each year [2].

The basis of CHD is regarded to be atherosclerosis. Hypercholesterolemia is a major contributor to atherosclerosis. The incidence of CHD is much lower in rural China and Japan where average plasma cholesterol concentration is 4.0 mmol/l as compared to the United Kingdom where it is 5.9 mmol/l and CHD is a major cause of death [3].

1.            WHO. Global burden of coronary heart disease. Cardiovascular Disease, The Atlas of Heart Disease and Stroke  2011 2011 [cited 2011; Available from: http://www.who.int/cardiovascular_diseases/en/cvd_atlas_13_coronaryHD.pdf.

2.            WHO. Deaths from coronary heart disease. Cardiovascular Disease, The Atlas of Heart Disease and Stroke  2011  [cited 2011; Available from: http://www.who.int/cardiovascular_diseases/en/cvd_atlas_14_deathHD.pdf.

3.            Chaudhury M, Chapter 9. Risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Health Survey for England 2003, ed. Sproston K. Vol. 2. 2004, London: The Stationary Office.

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