Published: 16th October 2020
Poor diet top contributor to heart disease deaths globally, finds study
Tobacco use ranked as the fourth highest contributor to ischaemic heart disease deaths in men but only seventh in women
Poor diet is a top contributor to heart disease deaths around the globe, say researchers, adding that more than two-thirds of the deaths from heart disease worldwide could be prevented with healthier diets.
The findings, published in the European Heart Journal, highlights the importance of affordable and sustainable healthy diets for all.
"Our analysis shows that unhealthy diets, high blood pressure, and high serum cholesterol are the top three contributors to deaths from heart attacks and angina - collectively called ischaemic heart disease," said study author Xinyao Liu from the Central South University in China. "This was consistent in both developed and developing countries," Liu added.
For the results, the research team analysed data provided by the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017, which was conducted in 195 countries between 1990 and 2017. In 2017, there were 126.5 million individuals living with ischaemic heart disease, and 10.6 million new diagnoses of the condition.
Ischaemic heart disease caused 8.9 million deaths in 2017, which equates to 16 per cent of all deaths, compared with 12.6 per cent of all deaths in 1990. The investigators calculated the impact of 11 risk factors on death from ischaemic heart disease.
These were diet, high blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, high plasma glucose, tobacco use, high body mass index (BMI), air pollution, low physical activity, impaired kidney function, lead exposure, and alcohol use.
Specifically, they estimated the proportion of deaths that could be stopped by eliminating that risk factor. Assuming all other risk factors remained unchanged, 69.2 per cent of ischaemic heart disease deaths worldwide could be prevented if healthier diets were adopted. Meanwhile, 54.4 per cent of these deaths could be avoided if systolic blood pressure was kept at 110-115 mmHg.
Tobacco use ranked as the fourth highest contributor to ischaemic heart disease deaths in men but only seventh in women. The findings also showed that high body mass index (BMI) was the fifth highest contributor to ischaemic heart disease deaths in women and sixth in men. "Every day we should aim for 200 to 300 grams of fruit, 290 to 430 grams of vegetables, 16 to 25 grams of nuts, and 100 to 150 grams of whole grains," the researchers wrote.