Background and objective: To review published studies on the prevalence of the main vascular risk factors -hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes mellitus, obesity and tobacco smoking- in Spain, and to combine their results in an estimate for the Spanish population.
Material and method: After a bibliographic search, the studies fulfilling the following inclusion criteria were selected: cross-sectional design, sampling on Spanish population, results including prevalence data of at least one of the above mentioned risk factors, and objective [corrected] (not self-referred) determination of arterial blood pressure, total serum cholesterol, basal glucose, weight, size and body mass index. The combined prevalence was obtained by means of the random effects model, including weight for the proportion that the studied population supposes on the total Spanish population.
Results: Forty-eight studies were identified including a total of 130.945 subjects. According to these studies, the most frequent vascular risk factors were hypertension in the elderly (66.7%, CI 59-74%), overweight/obesity in adult women (48,3%, CI 41-55%) and smoking among men (41.1%, CI 38-44%). In the Spanish population as a whole, 23% showed total cholesterol levels above 250 mg/dl; 33% were smokers (41,1% in men and 24% in women); 34% suffered hypertension; 20% were obese (18% in men and 23% in women); and diabetes affected 8% women and 12% men.
Conclusion: Cardiovascular risk in Spain is high. Monitoring the vascular risk factors at a population level is basic for preventive and health care measures.