June 27, 2012 | PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases

Neglected Tropical Diseases as Hidden Causes of Cardiovascular Disease

Yasmin Moolani, Gene Bukhman, Peter J. Hotez

An important component of the burden of cardiovascular disease in low- and middle-income countries may be attributed to the neglected tropical diseases.

There is a growing awareness of the importance of chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCDs) in the world's low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Beginning in the 1990s, Murray and Lopez predicted a doubling of death rates due to cardiovascular disease in developing countries by 2020, while a substantial rise was also predicted by Leeder et al. Based on World Health Organization (WHO) predictions, 75% of the burden of cardiovascular disease is found in LMICs. Alarming increases have also been noted for other CNCDs in LMICs including cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes. In September 2011, a report by the World Economic Forum and the Harvard School of Public Health estimated the global economic burden of CNCDs over the next two decades to be US$47 trillion. During this same month, the United Nations General Assembly held a high-level meeting to discuss prevention and control of CNCDs, including cardiovascular diseases, in LMICs. These initiatives have focused on preventable risk factors attributable to lifestyle changes such as tobacco and alcohol use, prolonged unhealthy nutrition, and physical inactivity, which currently account for a high proportion of cardiovascular deaths in North America and Europe.

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