Every year, millions of lives are prematurely lost due to cardiovascular diseases. Despite being preventable in 80% of cases, they remain the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for approximately 20 million deaths. These fatalities are primarily attributed to conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol, poor diet, and air pollution. These findings are revealed in the latest special issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), to be discussed at the national congress of the Italian Society of Cardiology (SIC).

The report provides an update on health estimates from 2022 concerning the impact and trends of cardiovascular diseases globally. Specifically, the report analyzed the impact of 18 cardiovascular conditions and 15 risk factors across 21 world regions, 204 nations, and territories, creating a comprehensive atlas of these diseases. The report indicates that the global number of deaths due to cardiovascular diseases has increased, rising from 12.4 million in 1990 to 19.8 million in 2022.

Among the considered cardiovascular diseases, ischemic heart disease, a condition occurring when there is insufficient blood and oxygen supply to the heart, remains the leading cause of global mortality, with approximately 109 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by intracerebral hemorrhage and ischemic stroke.

The 15 evaluated risk factors take into account environmental causes (air pollution, household pollution, lead exposure, low and high temperatures), metabolic factors (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, overweight, fasting blood glucose, kidney dysfunction), and behavioral factors (diet, smoking, passive smoking, alcohol use, physical activity).

Among these factors, high blood pressure is identified as the most significant risk factor globally for years of life lost due to disability. In contrast, poor dietary choices (such as low consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, milk, fiber, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and polyunsaturated fatty acids, and excessive consumption of red and processed meats, sugary beverages, trans fats, and sodium) are the primary behavioral risk factors for deteriorating health.

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