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Cardiovascular Disease Epidemic Threatens Developing Countries, Global Economy

NR 98-4859 (Cir/Reddy)

DALLAS, Feb. 17 -- Developing nations, including China and India, face an epidemic of heart disease and stroke that could devastate their economies, researchers report in today's Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

The lead author of the study, K. Srinath Reddy, M.D., D.M, says, "It will impede economic expansion within the countries." In addition, affluent residents in developing nations represent a growing market for medical products and services. "If a large number of people from the purchasing middle classes are going to be spending their money on expensive heart surgeries or angioplasties, how will they have the money to buy the global goods?"

The epidemic mirrors that of the United States and other industrialized nations 30 years ago, says Reddy, professor of cardiology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi,

One reason for the epidemic of cardiovascular disease is the surge in life expectancy due to declines in infectious and nutritional deficiency diseases and the improved economic conditions that have characterized most developing countries. In India, for example, life expectancy rose from 41.2 years in 1951 to 61.4 years by 1996. Ironically, these extra years provide a longer time period for such risk factors as smoking, high-fat diet, and sedentary lifestyle to set the stage for heart attack and stroke.

Reddy warns that smoking, high-fat diets and other adverse lifestyle factors -- which tend to accompany industrialization and urbanization -- could make cardiovascular disease death and disability numbers rise at even more alarming rates than those predicted on the basis of the aging population.

"The industrialized nations had both the means and the time to cope with their epidemic; the developing countries have neither," he says. Calling the situation "urgent," Reddy says national and international health agencies must
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Contact: Carole Bullock
caroleb@amhrt.org
214-706-1279
American Heart Association
17-Feb-1998


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