According to a new study by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, a concerted public health programme in which effort to lower people's blood pressure, cut their sodium intake, and eliminate trans fat from their diet could dramatically reduce the incidence of premature death from cardiovascular disease (CVD) and help prevent 94 million premature deaths due to cardiovascular diseases.
Lead researcher, Goodarz Danaei, Professor of global health told Thailand Medical News via a telephone interview, "Focusing our resources on the combination of these three interventions can have a huge potential impact on cardiovascular health through 2040," The team used global data from multiple studies and estimates from the World Health Organization in making their calculations and projections.
They estimated that scaling up treatment of high blood pressure to 70% of the world's population could extend the lives of 39.4 million people worldwide. Reducing sodium intake by 30% could prevent another 40 million deaths and could also help decrease high blood pressure, a major risk factor for CVD. Eliminating trans fat could prevent another 14.8 million premature deaths.
More than fifty percent of all delayed deaths, and sixty-five percent of deaths delayed before age 70, are projected to be among males, who have the highest numbers of cardiovascular disease deaths globally, researchers found. Regions expected to benefit most from the interventions include East Asia, the Pacific, and South Asia, as well as countries in Africa.
The research team said that a variety of programs and policies would be necessary to reduce premature CVD-related deaths. One key strategy would be to increase and facilitate the use of blood pressure medications, most of which are safe and cheap.
The team recognized that scaling up the three interventions would be a "big challenge," requiring countries to commit additional resources and monies to boost health care capacity and quality. But the team added that previous analyses have shown that the interventions are achievable , affordable and have been successful. For example, a Kaiser Permanente program in California increased control of hypertension to 90% among thousands of the health system's patients between the years 2001 and 2013, using tools such as improved treatment protocols, patient-friendly services, and healthcare information systems that helps tracking people with hypertension. Such programmes have been adopted and tested in certain low- and middle-income countries, leading to notable improvements in hypertension treatment and control, the researchers said.
Reference: Three Public Health Interventions Could Save 94 Million Lives in 25 Years, Vasilis Kontis, Laura K. Cobb, Colin D. Mathers, Thomas R. Frieden, Majid Ezzati, Goodarz Danaei, Circulation, June 10, 2019, doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.118.038160