Public Release: 

New model for predicting cardiovascular disease risk worldwide

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Boston, MA -- Researchers have developed the first global model for predicting cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. The model--developed by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Imperial College London, and colleagues--will be of particular help to public health professionals, clinicians, and patients in developing countries for prevention of CVD.

A paper on the new CVD risk prediction method, and its application in several example countries, appears online March 26, 2015 in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

"This new tool allows healthcare professionals around the world to make optimal clinical decisions about treatment of their patients and for health policy makers to efficiently allocate resources to CVD prevention," said Goodarz Danaei, assistant professor of global health at Harvard Chan School.

To develop the model, which will be available later this year at http://www.globorisk.org, the researchers analyzed data from more than 50,000 participants in eight existing long-term studies, which included risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking, as well as gender and age.

The researchers generated risk charts that estimated risk of fatal CVD over a span of 10 years for 11 countries in different regions of the world. The risk of fatal CVD was lowest in South Korea, Spain, Japan, and Denmark, and highest in the Czech Republic, China, Iran, and Mexico. In the former group of countries, only 5%-10% of men and women had more than a 10% risk of fatal CVD. But in China, 33% of men and 28% of women had a 10-year fatal CVD risk of 10% or higher. In Mexico the prevalence of high-risk CVD was 16% for men and 11% for women.

The researchers found that more people were at high risk of CVD in many developing countries compared with developed ones. Within developed countries, they found that the U.S. had a larger share of its population at high risk of CVD than England, Japan, South Korea, Denmark, or Spain.

The results emphasize the need to use the current momentum for universal health coverage to ensure that people at high risk of CVD in low- and middle-income countries receive the same basic treatments available to those in the high-income world, according to the authors. The U.S. results also demonstrate the urgent need for equitable access to primary health care as a tool for CVD prevention.

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Co-lead authors were Kaveh Hajifathalian and Peter Ueda, post-doctoral research fellows in the Department of Global Health and Population at Harvard Chan.

Funding for the study came from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIDDK: 1R01-DK090435), the UK Medical Research Council, and Wellcome Trust.

"Globorisk - A novel risk score for predicting cardiovascular disease risk in national populations: a pooled analysis of prospective cohorts and health examination surveys," Kaveh Hajifathalian, Peter Ueda, Yuan Lu, Mark Woodward, Alireza Ahmadvand, Carlos A. Aguilar-Salinas, Fereidoun Azizi, Renata Cifkova, Mariachiara Di Cesare, Louise Eriksen, Farshad Farzadfar, Nayu Ikeda, Davood Khalili, Young-Ho Khang, Vera Lanska, Luz León-Muñoz, Dianna Magliano, Kelias P. Msyamboza, Kyungwon Oh, Fernando Rodríguez-Artalejo, Rosalba Rojaz-Martinez, Jonathan E. Shaw, Gretchen A. Stevens, Janne Tolstrup, Bin Zhou, Joshua A Salomon, Majid Ezzati, and Goodarz Danaei, Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, online March 26, 2015, doi:10.1016/S2213-8587(15)00081-9.

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Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health brings together dedicated experts from many disciplines to educate new generations of global health leaders and produce powerful ideas that improve the lives and health of people everywhere. As a community of leading scientists, educators, and students, we work together to take innovative ideas from the laboratory to people's lives--not only making scientific breakthroughs, but also working to change individual behaviors, public policies, and health care practices. Each year, more than 400 faculty members at Harvard Chan teach 1,000-plus full-time students from around the world and train thousands more through online and executive education courses. Founded in 1913 as the Harvard-MIT School of Health Officers, the School is recognized as America's oldest professional training program in public health.

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