2014 Volume 21 Issue Supplement1 Pages S2-S8
The rates of coronary heart disease are lower in Asia than in developed countries. Singapore has undergone rapid urbanization over the past several decades. In the several decades between the 1960s and 1980s, a rapid increase in the rates of ischemic heart disease was observed, to the extent that Singapore exhibits one of the highest rates of mortality from cardiovascular disease in the Asia-Pacific region, higher even than the rates in North America. Rates of cardiovascular disease have now stabilized, and are declining. This is, a pattern that has been observed in many developed countries. Increased life expectancy has resulted in an epidemiologic transition that has seen chronic non-communicable diseases replace malnutrition and infections as the major causes of mortality. At the same time, there have been changes in nutrient intake and physical activity as well as rapid increases in the levels of several cardiovascular risk factors including obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes mellitus and systemic inflammation. Furthermore, when present, there is a lack of awareness and sub-optimal treatment of these risk factors. In addition to the changes in environmental exposures related to socio-economic development, it does appear that specific populations are particularly prone to the development of cardiovascular disease and its risk factors. In particular, Asian Indians experience a high rate of coronary heart disease and diabetes mellitus. Emerging data suggests that Chinese may be particularly prone to the adverse effects of obesity in relation to insulin resistance and inflammation. A concerted effort to change lifestyles to prevent the development of coronary heart disease risk factors, and to improve awareness and treatment of risk factors when then develop, is required to halt the epidemic of coronary heart disease that is occurring in Asia.