Epidemiology of cardiovascular disease in rural Vietnam

University dissertation from Umeå : Folkhälsa och klinisk medicin

Abstract: In the context of transitional Vietnam, although cardiovascular disease (CVD) has been shown to cause a large burden of mortality and morbidity in hospitals, little is known about the magnitude of its burden, risk factor levels and its relationship with socio-demographic status in the overall population. This thesis provides a preliminary insight into population-based knowledge of the CVD epidemiology in rural Vietnam and contributes to the development of methodologies for monitoring it. The ultimate goal of the work is to facilitate the formulation of evidence-based health interventions for reducing the burden of the CVD epidemic in Vietnam and elsewhere.This work was located in Bavi district, a rural community in the north of Vietnam. Studies on cause-specific mortality and risk factors were conducted within the framework of an ongoing Demographic Surveillance System (DSS) (called FilaBavi). The cause-specific mortality study used a verbal autopsy (VA) approach to identify causes of death in FilaBavi during 1999-2003. The risk factor study, conducted in 2002, employed the WHO STEPwise approach to surveillance of non-communicable disease (NCD) risk factors (WHO STEPS).Findings indicated that Bavi district, as an example of rural Vietnam, was already experiencing high rates of CVD mortality and associated risk factors. Mortality results indicated a substantial proportion of deaths due to CVD, which was the leading cause of death (20% and 25.7% of total mortality in 1999 and 2000, respectively and 32% of adult deaths during 1999-2003), exceeding infectious diseases. Hypertension was found to be a serious problem in terms both of its magnitude (14% of the population) and widespread unawareness (82% of the hypertensives). Smoking prevalence was very high among men (58% current daily smokers) and might be expected to cause a considerable number of future deaths without urgent action. CVD mortality and some risk factors seemed to be rising among disadvantaged groups (women, less educated people and the poor). The combination of DSS and WHO STEPS methodologies was shown to have potential for addressing basic epidemiological questions as to how NCD and CVD mortality and associated risk factors are distributed in populations.Given this evidence, actions to prevent CVD in Bavi and similar settings are clearly urgent. Interventions should be comprehensive and integrated, including both primary and secondary approaches, as well as policy-level involvement. Further studies, continuing on similar lines, plus qualitative approaches and deeper cross-site comparisons, are also needed to give further insights into CVD epidemiology in this type of setting.