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Evidence on the prevalence and geographic distribution of major cardiovascular risk factors in Italy

  • Roberta Laccetti (a1), Andrea Pota (a2), Saverio Stranges (a3), Claudio Falconi (a1), Bruno Memoli (a2), Leopoldo Bardaro (a4) and Bruna Guida (a1)...

Abstract

Objective

To assess the prevalence and geographic distribution of major cardiovascular risk factors in a large community-wide sample of the Italian population.

Design

A cross-sectional survey. Standardized methods were used to collect and measure cardiovascular risk factors. Data were adjusted for survey weightings. Qualitative and quantitative variables were compared with parametric and non-parametric tests, as appropriate.

Setting

Towns (n 193) across different Italian regions.

Subjects

Unselected adults (n 24 213; 12 626 men; 11 587 women) aged 18–98 years (mean age 56·9 (sd 15·3) years), who volunteered to participate in a community-wide screening programme over a 2 d period in 2007.

Results

Overall, the prevalence of major cardiovascular risk factors was: obesity, 22·7 % (women 18·9 %, men 26·1 %); overweight, 44·7 % (women 31·6 %, men 56·7 %); hypertension, 59·6 % (women 48·3 %, men 70·0 %); dyslipidaemia, 59·1 % (women 57·7 %, men 60·3 %); diabetes, 15·3 % (women 11·2 %, men 19·0 %) and smoking, 19·8 % (women 14·0 %, men 25·2 %). We found a high prevalence of unhealthy eating habits; fruit and vegetable consumption was below the recommended range in 60 % of the study population. Ninety per cent of the study population had more than one cardiovascular risk factor and 84 % had between two and five cardiovascular risk factors. There were differences among Italian macro-areas mainly for obesity, hypertension, dyslipidaemia and diabetes.

Conclusions

The study provides alarming evidence on current prevalence data for major cardiovascular risk factors in a large sample of the Italian population. Particularly, obesity and hypertension represent a relevant public health problem. There is a pressing need for effective preventive health measures which must also take into account the differences among Italian macro-areas.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Email robertalaccetti@hotmail.com

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