Landmark Canadian-led international study has found that the risk factors for heart attack are the same for people around the world, from the fisherman in Vancouver to the female office worker in Hong Kong to the sheep farmer in Australia. "There hasn't been a study like this ever in the world," lead investigator Dr. Salim Yusuf of McMaster University said Sunday from Munich, Germany, where he presented the findings at a European Society of Cardiology conference. "The risk factors that we've been able to measure account for 90 per cent or more of heart disease. "The impact of these risk factors in developing heart disease is global,"said Yusuf, head of the Population Health Research Institute at the Hamilton university. "It's there in every ethnic group, in men, in women, in every region of the world, in young and old. "It means we should be able to prevent the majority of premature heart attacks in the world." The most telling of those risk factors are cigarette smoking and a poor ratio of bad to good cholesterol, which together predict two-thirds of heart attacks worldwide, the study suggests, followed by high blood pressure, diabetes, abdominal obesity, stress and depression, a lack of daily consumption of fruits and vegetables, and a lack of daily exercise. Modest alcohol consumption - three to five drinks per week - was found to be a slightly protective factor. To achieve their far-ranging results, the research team studied almost 30,000 people in 52 countries, about half of whom had suffered a heart attack. Those 15,000 participants were compared with roughly an equal number of people with no heart disease, who were matched for age, sex and city of residence. All participants were followed over five years, until March 2003, and tested for cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as questioned about smoking, diet and exercise. "This has been a mammoth effort in trying to get people around the world to work together," Yusuf said of the study, which was estimated to cost $10 million and was funded by 37 international sources, informs Canada. According to Reuters, Virtually the entire risk of heart attack can be predicted and the impact of factors causing attacks is the same whether you live in a rich country or a poor one, a global study has showed. Results of the study of more than 29,000 people in 52 countries, released at a meeting of the European Cardiology Society on Sunday, showed that two factors alone -- an abnormal ratio of bad to good cholesterol and smoking -- were responsible for two-thirds of the global risk of heart attack. Other risk factors were high blood pressure, diabetes, abdominal obesity, stress, a lack of daily consumption of fruits and vegetables, and lack of daily exercise. Drinking small amounts of alcohol regularly was found to reduce risk slightly. "This convincingly shows that 90 percent of the global risk of heart disease is predictable," researcher Salim Yusuf, a professor of medicine at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, told a news conference. "This is good news. It means we can do something about it." The findings contradict current thinking which suggests that only around half of the risk of heart disease is accounted for by known factors. They also imply that creating awareness of heart-attack risk factors may be easier than earlier thought. Herald Sun publishes that canadian doctors behind a major global study today said it should be possible to prevent most premature heart attacks after they found risk factors transcended ethnic and racial divides. Their research found that heart attacks could be predicted by nine factors - common to Europeans, Asians, Africans, Arabs and other ethnic groups and races. Salim Yusuf, of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, said conventional wisdom had previously suggested that only half of the risks of premature heart attack could be foreseen. But the survey of 29,000 people in 52 countries proved that almost all risk factors were similar, could be detected, and therefore prevented, he said. "This suggests that the message of preventing cardiovascular disease can be quite simple and, generally, similar across the world, after taking into account economic and cultural differences. "Since these risk factors may all be modified, this is remarkable and will change the way we look at heart attack prevention. It means we should be able to prevent the majority of premature heart attacks in the world."
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