Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Study Attempts to Shed Light on the 'Causes of the Causes' of Heart Disease

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Study Attempts to Shed Light on the 'Causes of the Causes' of Heart Disease

Article excerpt

Studying 'causes of the causes' of heart disease

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TORONTO - A new Canadian study is shedding light on what its authors call "the causes of the causes" of heart disease around the globe.

The risk factors or causes of heart disease have been well documented -- things like smoking, being overweight, Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.

But this work, done by researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton, is trying to tease out why individuals and societies around the world have those risk factors.

The information is being presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Munich, Germany.

The researchers gathered data from nearly 154,000 people from 628 communities in 17 countries.

The team hopes the findings will be used to help governments design public health programs that fit their individual situations.

Many of the findings don't come as a surprise. People in poorer countries expend more energy, and have less varied diets that rely heavily on carbohydrates.

People in wealthier countries eat diets that contain more fruits and vegetables, proteins and total fats than those from poorer countries. They're also quitting smoking at higher rates than those from poorer countries. But they are less physically active.

A co-investigator of the ongoing study says its goal is to provide hard data so that policy formation doesn't have to rely on supposition.

"We have lots of data on mostly white, Caucasian adults living in North America and Europe. So you might say: What's new about the information from that perspective?" says Dr. Sonia Anand, who is a professor of medicine at McMaster.

"But the global projections of where the greatest number of cardiovascular deaths will occur are that 80 per cent of the burden of cardiovascular disease will be occurring in low-income and middle-income countries in the year 2020. So we need to understand what the trends are in those regions in order to come up with prevention programs, policy changes, etc. …

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