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Understanding cardiovascular diseases
Understanding cardiovascular diseases

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1.3 There's a lot of it about: the global picture of cardiovascular diseases

1.3.1 Who is affected by cardiovascular diseases?

Cardiovascular diseases are the main cause of premature death (before the age of 75) in the UK, across Europe and the USA – indeed, across many parts of the world (Figures 3 and 4). One third of global deaths in 2002 were from cardiovascular diseases: 16.7 million people (World Health Organization (WHO) figures: Mackay and Mensah, 2004; see Figure 3). However, the burden is not shared equally between the developed and developing world, or even within European states, as you will see in the next section.

Figure 3
Figure 3 Pie chart showing the proportion of global deaths from various cardiovascular diseases in 2002
Figure 4
Figure 4 The number of deaths per year throughout the world for different types of cardiovascular diseases subdivided by age into different groups. As you can see, in early adulthood coronary heart disease and stroke become the common causes of cardiovascular deaths for large numbers of people

Activity 1: Interpreting coronary heart disease deaths from a world distribution map

Timing: 0 hours 10 minutes

Using Figure 5, find three countries with the highest numbers of deaths from coronary heart disease (more than 500 000) and then three countries with the lowest numbers (fewer than 1000; exclude the no data countries).

Look at your own country and decide whether it has a high or low occurrence of coronary heart disease.

Figure 5
Figure 5 Coronary heart disease knows no borders: a map of the world showing numbers of deaths from coronary heart disease in 2002

Click here to view larger PDF version of Figure 5 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]


You should be aware that the number of deaths from coronary heart disease in 2002 varied greatly between different countries. There are numerous reasons for these differences and you will start to learn about some of these in the following sections.