Relationships Among Risk Factors and the Burden of Cardiovascular Diseases, Diabetes, and Chronic Lung Disease

Authors: George Mensah, Dorairaj Prabhakaran


The concept that current or past exposure to specific factors increase the risk of future coronary heart disease (CHD) was first established in the Framingham Heart Study. These “factors of risk” are now well described, not just for CHD but also for stroke, other cardiovascular diseases (CVD), diabetes, chronic lung disease, and other chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs).  Exposure to these risk factors may occur early in life, including in utero, and continue throughout life or may be limited to only certain phases of the life span.  They may be strongly influenced by socioeconomic and environmental determinants; policy and legislative interventions; lifestyle and behavioral choices; as well as familial and genetic predisposition.  Among modifiable risk factors, reductions in the level of individual or population risk or discontinuation of the exposure leads to corresponding reductions in the magnitude of  disease burden and preventable deaths. In-depth knowledge of these relationships as well as the distribution of the risk factors in the population provide a sound basis for developing  prevention strategies at the individual and population levels.