An enormous new meta-analysis confirms the important role that risk factors play over a lifetime in the development of cardiovascular disease. In a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Jarett Berry and colleagues report on the new meta-analysis from the Cardiovascular Lifetime Risk Pooling Project, which contains data from 18 epidemiological studies including more than one-quarter of a million people whose risk factors– blood pressure, cholesterol level, smoking status, and diabetes status– were measured every decade between 45 and 75 years of age.
At age 55, compared to people with two or more risk factors, people with an optimal risk factor profile had a greatly reduced risk of death from CV disease or CHD through the age of 80:
Death from CV disease:
- men: 29.6% versus 4.7%
- women: 20.5% versus 6.4%
- men: 37.5% versus 3.6%
- women: 18.3% versus <1%
Fatal or nonfatal stroke:
- men: 8.3% versus 2.3%
- women: 10.7% versus 5.3%
“In general, previous studies have only looked at CVD risk factors across one specific age or gender in white populations,” said Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, principal investigator of the study, in an NHLBI press release. “We analyzed an enormous pool of available data, which allowed for a more precise estimate of lifetime CVD risks across the age, sex, race, and risk factor spectrum.”
The authors identified three major findings in their study:
- The results “strongly reinforce the influence of traditional risk factors on the lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease. Even a relatively low burden of these risk factors was associated with significant increases in the long-term risk of cardiovascular disease, and the absence of traditional risk factors was associated with a very low lifetime risk.”
- The impact of the risk factors “remained remarkably consistent across birth cohorts.”
- Risk factors had the same influence on lifetime risk in blacks and whites.
Here is a press release from the NHLBI:
What is heart disease?
What is stroke?
Your Guide to Living Well With Heart Disease
Your Guide to a Healthy Heart
What is a cohort?
The Heart Truth campaign website
NHLBI Story of Success: Conquering Cardiovascular Disease
Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC)
Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS)
Framingham Heart Study
Framingham Offspring Study
Honolulu Heart Program (HHP)
Puerto Rico Heart Health Program (PRHHP)
Women’s Health Initiative (WHI)
Million Hearts Campaign
Healthy People 2020