The global burden of disease due to cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) is escalating, principally due to a sharp rise in the developing countries which are experiencing rapid health transition. Contributory causes include: demographic shifts with altered population age profiles; lifestyle changes due to recent urbanisation, delayed industrialisation and overpowering globalisation; probable effects of foetal undernutrition on adult susceptibility to vascular disease and possible gene–environment interactions influencing ethnic diversity. Altered diets and diminished physical activity are critical factors contributing to the acceleration of CVD epidemics, along with tobacco use. The pace of health transition, however, varies across developing regions with consequent variations in the relative burdens of the dominant CVDs. A comprehensive public health response must integrate policies and programmes that effectively impact on the multiple determinants of these diseases and provide protection over the life span through primordial, primary and secondary prevention. Populations as well as individuals at risk must be protected through initiatives that espouse and enable nutrition-based preventive strategies to protect and promote cardiovascular health. An empowered community, an enlightened policy and and energetic coalition of health professionals must ensure that development is not accompanied by distored nutrition and disordered health.
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