Effectiveness and costs of interventions to lower systolic blood pressure and cholesterol: a global and regional analysis on reduction of cardiovascular-disease risk

Lancet. 2003 Mar 1;361(9359):717-25. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(03)12655-4.


Background: Cardiovascular disease accounts for much morbidity and mortality in developed countries and is becoming increasingly important in less developed regions. Systolic blood pressure above 115 mm Hg accounts for two-thirds of strokes and almost half of ischaemic heart disease cases, and cholesterol concentrations exceeding 3.8 mmol/L for 18% and 55%, respectively. We report estimates of the population health effects, and costs of selected interventions to reduce the risks associated with high cholesterol concentrations and blood pressure in areas of the world with differing epidemiological profiles.

Methods: Effect sizes were derived from systematic reviews or meta-analyses, and the effect on health outcomes projected over time for populations with differing age, sex, and epidemiological profiles. Incidence data from estimates of burden of disease were used in a four-state longitudinal population model to calculate disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) averted and patients treated. Costs were taken from previous publications, or estimated by local experts, in 14 regions.

Findings: Non-personal health interventions, including government action to stimulate a reduction in the salt content of processed foods, are cost-effective ways to limit cardiovascular disease and could avert over 21 million DALYs per year worldwide. Combination treatment for people whose risk of a cardiovascular event over the next 10 years is above 35% is also cost effective leading to substantial additional health benefits by averting an additional 63 million DALYs per year worldwide.

Interpretation: The combination of personal and non-personal health interventions evaluated here could lower the global incidence of cardiovascular events by as much as 50%.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blood Pressure*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / economics*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Developing Countries
  • Global Health*
  • Health Expenditures / standards*
  • Health Promotion / economics*
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / economics*
  • Hypercholesterolemia / prevention & control
  • Hypertension / economics*
  • Hypertension / prevention & control
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years