Cardiovascular disease prevalence and risk factors of persons with mental retardation

Ment Retard Dev Disabil Res Rev. 2006;12(1):3-12. doi: 10.1002/mrdd.20095.


This paper reviews the recent literature on cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevalence, CVD-related mortality, physiological CVD risk factors, and behavioral CVD risk factors in adults with mental retardation (MR). The literature on the potential influences of modifiable behavioral CVD risk factors and the physiological CVD risk factors are also reviewed. Adults with mild to moderate MR residing in community settings appear to have an elevated disease prevalence, elevated CVD-related mortality, more adverse physiological CVD risk factors, and elevated behavioral risk compared to others with and without MR. Preliminary evidence supports the benefits of participating in the recommended physical activity levels and consuming the recommended diets to reduce the risk for CVD. The lack of large-scale longitudinal or experimental research indicates a gap in the research. The development of research-based, appropriate, primary prevention programs and intervention strategies aimed at lowering the risk for CVD is highly recommended. Programs should focus on educating individuals with MR along with direct care providers and family members on the importance of appropriate dietary concepts, physical activity habits, and regular health screenings by physicians. Programs should be individualized to regional and cultural issues.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • United States