CARMELA: assessment of cardiovascular risk in seven Latin American cities

Am J Med. 2008 Jan;121(1):58-65. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2007.08.038.


Objective: This cross-sectional, population-based observational study using stratified multistage sampling assessed the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors and carotid plaques and measured carotid intima-media thickness in individuals living in major cities in 7 Latin American countries.

Patients and methods: The study comprised individuals (n=11,550) aged 25 to 64 years, living in Barquisimeto, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Lima, Mexico City, Quito, and Santiago. Data on anthropometric parameters, blood pressure, fasting glucose, total and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, carotid intima-media thickness, carotid plaque, and smoking status were collected through household interviews and clinical, biochemical, and sonographic measurements.

Results: The overall prevalence rates (ranges across cities) were as follows: hypertension (> or = 140/90 mm Hg or pharmacologic treatment), 18% (9%-29%); hypercholesterolemia (total cholesterol > or = 240 mg/dL), 14% (6%-20%); diabetes (glycemia > or = 126 mg/dL or self-reported diabetes), 7% (4%-9%); metabolic syndrome, 20% (14%-27%); obesity (body mass index > or = 30 kg/m2), 23% (18%-27%); smoking, 30% (22%-45%); and plaque, 8% (5%-14%). The mean intima-media thickness was 0.65 mm (0.60-0.74 mm).

Conclusion: The prevalence of hypertension mirrored the world average in 3 cities but was lower in the rest. Hypercholesterolemia was highly prevalent even in countries of different socioeconomic levels. The prevalence of diabetes was similar to that in the developed countries. Tobacco use in women living in Santiago and Buenos Aires was among the world's highest. Intima-media thickness and carotid plaque prevalences varied widely.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Carotid Arteries / diagnostic imaging
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Latin America / epidemiology
  • Lipids / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tunica Intima / diagnostic imaging
  • Ultrasonography
  • Urban Population*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Lipids