South America comprises widely different environments consisting of many complex and heterogeneous ethnicities, societies and cultures. During recent decades conspicuous advances in human and societal development have been made.
South America now faces three major demographic shifts: population growth; urbanisation (almost 90% of the population live in urban areas) and ageing.
Recently, an epidemiological transition has been seen. Urbanisation has brought unfavourable and prominent changes, such as increased smoking rates, stress, lack of physical activity and poor diets (more fat and calories). Consequently, owing to the interaction between environment and genetic susceptibility, the modifications induced by urbanisation have resulted in enhancement of the cardiovascular risk factors and cardiovascular disease (CVD).
This situation is responsible for the burden of CVD in South America, requiring effective action towards better detection and control of cardiovascular risk factors aimed at reducing the burden of disease in the region, which tends to be higher and increasingly serious.
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Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.