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Risk Factor Prevalence

Risk Factor Prevalence 

  • The INTERHEART Study showed that CVD (cardiovascular disease) risk factors such as abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes are higher in India even at young ages, than among other ethnic groups.1
  • No national data is available about the prevalence of risk factors, although several regional studies are available. To make matters worse, different criteria were used for defining risk factors especially for obesity and abdominal obesity. The prevalence of risk factors in a large study of the industrial population of nearly 20,000 people from ten cities in India is given in Table 021.2
  • In this and other studies the prevalence of smoking was low, but obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes was higher among women than men.2
  • Most of the risk factors, except smoking, are higher in urban India than rural India with higher prevalence of risk factors in South India, especially in Kerala.3, 4
  • The prevalence rates of CVD risk factors have been rapidly rising within India over the past 25 years, particularly within urban communities.2
  • The prevalence of overweight, obesity, and abdominal obesity appears to have doubled according to the results of New Delhi Birth Cohort (Figure 021). For example, more than 80% of young adults (age 36) were overweight. Using the Indian specific cut point of obesity (BMI >25) 54% of men and 66% of women were obese. For comparison, the overall rate of obesity in the US is only 33%.
  • Abdominal obesity, which confers greater risk than overall obesity among Indians, was also alarmingly high at such a young age and portends a further escalation of diabetes.
  • Unfortunately, the medical community, the general public, and the government seem unconcerned.


1. Yusuf S, Hawken S, Ounpuu S, et al. Effect of potentially modifiable risk factors associated with myocardial infarction in 52 countries (the INTERHEART study): case-control study. Lancet. Sep 11 2004;364(9438):937-952.

2. Reddy KS, Prabhakaran D, Chaturvedi V, et al. Methods for establishing a surveillance system for cardiovascular diseases in Indian industrial populations. Bull World Health Organ. Jun 2006;84(6):461-469.

3. Shah B, Mathur P. Surveillance of cardiovascular disease risk factors in India: the need & scope. Indian J Med Res. Nov 2010;132(5):634-642.

4. Thankappan K R, Shah B, Mathur P, et al. Risk factor profile for chronic non-communicable diseases: results of a community-based study in Kerala, India. Indian J Med Res. Jan 2010;131:53-63.

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