High prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors in adults living in Greece: the EMENO National Health Examination Survey

BMC Public Health. 2020 Nov 7;20(1):1665. doi: 10.1186/s12889-020-09757-4.


Background: Nationwide data on cardiovascular risk factors prevalence is lacking in Greece. This work presents the findings of the national health examination survey EMENO (2013-2016) regarding the prevalence of hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, obesity and smoking.

Methods: A random sample of adults (≥18 years) was drawn by multistage stratified random sampling based on 2011 Census. All EMENO participants with ≥1 measurement of interest [blood pressure (BP), fasting glucose, HbA1c, total cholesterol (TC), Body Mass Index (BMI)] were included. Hypertension was defined as BP ≥ 140/90 mmHg and/or antihypertensive treatment; diabetes as fasting glucose≥126 mg/dL and/or HbA1c ≥ 6.5% or self-reported diabetes; hypercholesterolemia as TC ≥ 190 mg/dL. Sampling weights were applied to adjust for study design and post-stratification weights to match sample age and sex distribution to population one. Non-response was adjusted by inverse probability weighting.

Results: Of 6006 EMENO participants, 4822 were included (51.5% females, median age:47.9 years). The prevalence of hypertension was 39.2%, higher in men (42.4%) than in women (36.1%); of hypercholesterolemia 60.2%, similar in men (59.5%) and women (60.9%); of diabetes 11.6%, similar men (12.4%) and women (10.9%); of obesity 32.1%, higher in women (33.5% vs 30.2%), although in subjects aged 18-40 year it was higher in men; of current smoking 38.2%, higher in men (44.0%) than in women (32.7%). The prevalence of all risk factors increased substantially with age, except smoking, which followed an inverse U shape.

Conclusions: The burden of cardiovascular risk factors among Greek adults is alarming. There is considerable preventive potential and actions at health care and societal level are urgently needed.

Keywords: Cardiovascular disease; Diabetes; Health examination survey; Hypercholesterolemia; Hypertension; Obesity; Population-based study.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Greece / epidemiology
  • Heart Disease Risk Factors
  • Humans
  • Hypertension* / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult