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Ann Epidemiol. 2007 Sep;17(9):713-20. Epub 2007 Jun 6.

Cardiovascular health among adults in Syria: a model from developing countries.

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  • 1Department of Health & Sport Sciences, University of Memphis, TN 38152, USA.



Despite the considerable mortality and morbidity associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD), many developing countries lack reliable surveillance of these ailments and their risk factors to guide intervention. This study aims to provide the first population-based estimates of CVD morbidity and mortality among adults in Aleppo, Syria and the distribution of their risk factors.


A cross-sectional survey of adults 18 to 65 years old residing in Aleppo, Syria was carried out in 2004, involving 2038 household representatives (45.2% men; mean age, 35.3 years; response rate, 86%). Main outcomes of interest were physician-diagnosed CVD (infarction, angina, failure, stroke) among survey participants, and past 5-year mortality due to CVD among their household members older than 20 years of age (N = 6252, 49.5% men). Measurement of blood pressure (BP), height and weight, and smoking history were obtained as well.


Prevalence of CVD was 4.8% for heart disease and 1.0% for stroke. CVD was responsible for 45.0% of overall mortality reported in the past 5 years, whereby 49% of CVD deaths occurred before the age of 65 years. Mean age of death was 62.6 years (63.6 years for heart disease and 61.4 years for stroke). Annual crude death rate due to CVD was 314 per 100,000 (95% confidence interval [95% CI]: 215-414); of these, 179 were due to heart disease, and 135 due to stroke. More men than women died from heart disease, whereas the opposite was true for stroke. Hypertension was detected in 40.6% (47.7% men, 34.9%women), obesity in 38.2% (28.8% men, 46.4% women), and smoking (cigarettes or waterpipe) in 38.7% (63.6% men, 19.2% women) of participants. Of those surveyed, 39.3% had one CVD risk factor, 27.4% had two risk factors, and 8.3% had 3 risk factors. Main predictors of clustering of risk factors were older age, male gender, and low education.


Syria is currently undergoing a stage in which morbidity and mortality from CVD are high but likely to increase based on the population's risk profile. CVD risk distribution in Syrian society highlights the non-generalizability of CVD models from developed societies, and calls for local studies to inform effective interventions and policies.

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