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Nature Human Behaviour

The prevalence of cardiovascular disease risk factors among adults living in extreme poverty

Evidence on cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factor prevalence among adults living below the World Bank’s international line for extreme poverty (those with income <$1.90 per day) globally is sparse. Here we pooled individual-level data from 105 nationally representative household surveys across 78 countries, representing 85% of people living in extreme poverty globally, and sorted individuals by country-specific measures of household income or wealth to identify those in extreme poverty. CVD risk factors (hypertension, diabetes, smoking, obesity and dyslipidaemia) were present among 17.5% (95% confidence interval (CI) 16.7–18.3%), 4.0% (95% CI 3.6–4.5%), 10.6% (95% CI 9.0–12.3%), 3.1% (95% CI 2.8–3.3%) and 1.4% (95% CI 0.9–1.9%) of adults in extreme poverty, respectively. Most were not treated for CVD-related conditions (for example, among those with hypertension earning <$1.90 per day, 15.2% (95% CI 13.3–17.1%) reported taking blood pressure-lowering medication). The main limitation of the study is likely measurement error of poverty level and CVD risk factors that could have led to an overestimation of CVD risk factor prevalence among adults in extreme poverty. Nonetheless, our results could inform equity discussions for resource allocation and design of effective interventions.

Geldsetzer, P., R. Tisdale, L. Stehr, F. Michalik, J. Lemp, K. Aryal, A. Damasceno, C. Houehanou, J. Jørgensen, N. Lunet, M. Mayige, S. Moghaddam, J. Mwangi, C. Bommer, M. Marcus, M. Theilmann, C. Ebert, R. Atun, J. Davies, D. Flood, J. Manne-Goehler, J. Seiglie, T. Bärnighausen and S. Vollmer (2024), The prevalence of cardiovascular disease risk factors among adults living in extreme poverty. Nature Human Behaviour

DOI: 10.1038/s41562-024-01840-9