Introduction: Hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and diabetes are the main causes of cardiovascular diseases in developed countries. However, these conditions are still poorly recognized and treated.
Objective: This study aimed at estimating the prevalence, awareness, treatment, and control rates of major cardiovascular risk factors in an unselected sample of individuals of a small community located in northern Italy.
Methods: We screened 344 sequential subjects in this study. Data collection included family and clinical history, anthropometric data, blood pressure, blood glucose, and serum cholesterol values. Individual cardiovascular risk profiles were assessed by risk charts of the Progetto Cuore.
Results: Based on personal history and/or measured values, 78.2% of subjects had hypercholesterolemia (total cholesterol levels > 190 mg/dL), 61.0% had central obesity (waist circumference ≥ 94 cm for men and ≥80 cm for women), 51.2% had arterial hypertension (blood pressure ≥ 140/90 mmHg), 8.1% had diabetes (blood glucose ≥ 126 mg/dL), 22.7% had impaired fasting glucose (blood glucose 100-125 mg/dL), and 35.5% were overweight (body mass index 25-29 kg/m(2)). Alcohol drinkers and smokers accounted for 46.2% and 22.4% of subjects, respectively. Awareness of hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and diabetes was poor, and control of these risk factors, except for diabetes, was even worse. Prevalence of high blood pressure, high serum cholesterol, overweight, and obesity significantly increased with aging. Hypercholesterolemia and obesity were significantly more common in women, while overweight and diabetes in men. In 15.4% of participants, the risk of a major cardiovascular event in the next 10 years was either high or very high.
Conclusion: In a small community in a wealthy region of Italy, the prevalence of major cardiovascular risk factors is high, while awareness, treatment, and control are poor. Such a result highlights the importance of screening campaigns as a strategy to improve early diagnosis and access to treatment, and thus effective prevention of cardiovascular diseases in the general population.
Keywords: Italy; cardiovascular risk; diabetes; hypercholesterolemia; hypertension; obesity.