Rapid socioeconomic development, urbanization and improved survival have given rise to a progressive increase in the occurrence of noncommunicable diseases in the Eastern Mediterranean Region. Cardiovascular diseases have emerged as a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in many countries. The prevalence of hypertension is already high in many countries of the Region and the number of hypertensives is likely to increase further in the coming years. Although the influence of geographical, ethnic and socioeconomic factors has not been studied adequately, it seems that the epidemiological and clinical patterns of hypertension do not differ markedly from those in developed countries. The growing impact of cardiovascular disease is already understood in most countries. The human and economic costs are enormous, there is a growing demand for medical services, and the need to take action is increasingly acknowledged. Most countries have either initiated or indicated the need to establish programmes in collaboration with WHO on the prevention and control of cardiovascular disease during 1992 and 1993. In view of the scarcity of precise epidemiological information, data collection and the assessment of risk factors for coronary heart disease are expected to form the basis of preliminary activities.
PIP: The author examines morbidity and mortality associated with cardiovascular diseases in the eastern Mediterranean region, with a focus on coronary heart disease, hypertension, and rheumatic heart disease. (SUMMARY IN FRE)