Introduction and objectives: To determine the prevalence and geographic distribution of major cardiovascular risk factors in the Spanish population. To investigate whether geographic variability exists.
Methods: Data were pooled from eight cross-sectional epidemiologic studies carried out in Spain between 1992 and 2001 whose methodological quality satisfied predefined criteria. Individual data were reassessed and analyzed by age group (20-44 years, 45-64 years, and 365 years), sex and geographic area. The study population included 19,729 individuals. Mean values and unadjusted and adjusted prevalence rates were derived for various risk factors.
Results: The most common cardiovascular risk factors in the Spanish population were, in descending order: hypercholesterolemia (i.e., total cholesterol >200 mg/dL) in 46.7%, hypertension in 37.6%, smoking in 32.2%, obesity in 22.8%, and diabetes mellitus in 6.2%. The mean values for blood pressure, body mass index, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and glycemia varied considerably with age, sex and geographic area. The highest levels of cardiovascular risk factors were observed in Mediterranean and south-eastern areas of the country and the lowest, in northern and central areas.
Conclusions: The prevalence of major cardiovascular risk factors in Spain was high. Their distribution varied considerably with geographic area.