Cardiovascular Disease: life or lifestyle?

In contrast to the decline in developed nations of common cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, myocardial infarction, and heart failure, there is a surprising increase in the prevalence of these diseases in emerging economies such as South Africa. South Africa therefore requires more effective primary prevention programmes targeting the causes of these diseases.

Although cardiovascular disease is indeed caused by lifestyle, a label that implies that with appropriate lifestyle changes we should eradicate these diseases, there is also an argument that a large component of these diseases is caused by biological changes, such as genetic or other effects, or simply poor health care delivery at a primary care level.

The latter argument suggests that “lifestyle” is an oversimplification of the causation of cardiovascular events. In this lecture, we consider both views, using examples of data obtained in two large cardiovascular studies being conducted in the Gauteng region. The lecture also addresses the effect on cardiovascular disease and obesity of globalisation, trade and changes in society. [Download pdf]