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Ethn Dis. 1999 Autumn;9(3):468-78.

Cardiovascular risk factors in South America and the Caribbean.

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  • 1Institute of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, University of Palermo, Italy.


Facing the conclusion of the twentieth century, cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains a major cause of morbidity and a leading contributor to mortality worldwide. Developing countries, including those in South America and the Caribbean, contribute substantially to the global burden of CVD. Indeed, 8 to 9 million deaths attributable to CVD (63% of world total) occurred in developing countries in 1990, compared to 5.3 million deaths in developed nations. Over the next 25 years, it is projected that there will be a rise in CVD mortality rates in the developing countries, linked not only to demographic changes (expansion and aging of the population), but also to progressive urbanization and lifestyle modifications. As such, the ratio of deaths from CVD to deaths from infectious disease is likely to triple during the next 20 years in South America and the Caribbean. The identification of major risk factors and the implementation of control strategies (eg, community education and target of high risk individuals) have contributed to the fall in CVD mortality rates observed in industrialized nations. Most countries of South America and the Caribbean lack an efficient health care system, and the medical and socio-economic consequences of the projected rise in CVD will further strain financial resources. Therefore, appropriate strategies based on knowledge extrapolated from research among other populations should be initiated. The agenda of any lifestyle-related disease control program should include the promotion of healthy diet, exercise, and should encourage decreasing tobacco and alcohol usage.

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