Cardiovascular disease: the new epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa

Vascular. 2011 Dec;19(6):301-7. doi: 10.1258/vasc.2011.ra0049. Epub 2011 Sep 22.


Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is now facing a double burden of disease where patients are suffering from non-communicable diseases such as coronary heart disease, along with the burden of the current human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic. Due to this double burden, cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention and treatment has been overlooked, allowing the rates to continue to rise unchecked. A series of searches were conducted using PubMed as the primary database. From these searches, journal articles were compiled that related to diabetes, obesity and smoking rates in SSA. Also, the prevalence of CVD in the USA was reviewed. Although the USA has higher rates of CVD now, the rates were on the decline compared with SSA. Due to 'Westernization' of SSA, the rates of CVD risk factors, such as diabetes, are expected to increase by 50%. Because of this, 80% of CVD deaths worldwide took place in developing countries like those in SSA. Although HIV/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is the current epidemic in SSA, CVD disease poses a threat as the new epidemic because of the increasing rates of these CVD risk factors. Without combating this disease now, SSA is facing an epidemiological shift from AIDS to CVD being the leading cause of death.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa South of the Sahara / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Epidemics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology*