The contribution of the exposome to the burden of cardiovascular disease

Nat Rev Cardiol. 2023 Oct;20(10):651-669. doi: 10.1038/s41569-023-00873-3. Epub 2023 May 10.


Large epidemiological and health impact assessment studies at the global scale, such as the Global Burden of Disease project, indicate that chronic non-communicable diseases, such as atherosclerosis and diabetes mellitus, caused almost two-thirds of the annual global deaths in 2020. By 2030, 77% of all deaths are expected to be caused by non-communicable diseases. Although this increase is mainly due to the ageing of the general population in Western societies, other reasons include the increasing effects of soil, water, air and noise pollution on health, together with the effects of other environmental risk factors such as climate change, unhealthy city designs (including lack of green spaces), unhealthy lifestyle habits and psychosocial stress. The exposome concept was established in 2005 as a new strategy to study the effect of the environment on health. The exposome describes the harmful biochemical and metabolic changes that occur in our body owing to the totality of different environmental exposures throughout the life course, which ultimately lead to adverse health effects and premature deaths. In this Review, we describe the exposome concept with a focus on environmental physical and chemical exposures and their effects on the burden of cardiovascular disease. We discuss selected exposome studies and highlight the relevance of the exposome concept for future health research as well as preventive medicine. We also discuss the challenges and limitations of exposome studies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / etiology
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Exposome*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Noncommunicable Diseases*