Millions of lives are lost prematurely to cardiovascular disease (CVD) heart disease each year, according to a new report calling for urgent action for a heart-healthy world.

The new Global Burden of Disease (GBD) special report published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology provides an update of health estimates for the global, regional and national burden and trends of CVD from 1990-2022 by analysing the impact of cardiovascular conditions and risk factors across 21 global regions.

The report showed high blood pressure, high cholesterol, dietary risks and air pollution are the leading causes of high CVD cases.

Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East reported the highest burden of CVD mortality.

“Cardiovascular diseases are a persistent challenge that leads to an enormous number of premature and preventable deaths,” said Gregory A. Roth, Associate Professor in the Division of Cardiology at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

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“There are many inexpensive, effective treatments. We know what risk factors we need to identify and treat. There are simple healthy choices that people can make to improve their health. This atlas provides detailed information on where countries stand in their efforts to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases,” he added.

Further, the report showed that ischemic heart disease remains the leading cause of global CVD mortality with an age-standardised rate per 100,000 of 108.8 deaths, followed by intracerebral haemorrhage and ischemic stroke.

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High systolic blood pressure accounted for the largest contribution to attributable age-standardised CVD disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) at 2,564.9 per 100,000 globally.

Dietary risks were the leading contributor to age-standardised CVD DALYs among the behavioural risks, while ambient particulate matter pollution led the environmental risks.

Global death counts due to CVD increased from 12.4 million in 1990 to 19.8 million in 2022 reflecting global population growth and ageing and the contributions from preventable metabolic, environmental, and behavioural risks, revealed the study.