Background: Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are a leading cause of mortality among adults in India, and their risk factors (tobacco, hypertension, diabetes, overweight, and obesity) are common. Most risk-factor surveys have focused on young and middle aged adults. We measured the prevalence of risk factors for CVD among elderly (age 60 years or more) in rural India. Methods and results: In a door-to-door cross-sectional survey we did a non-laboratory based assessment of risk factors (smoking or tobacco use in any form, diabetes mellitus, either known or newly detected hypertension, abnormal waist-hip-ratio, or a high body mass index) among elderly living in 23 villages in rural central India. Laboratory based assessment of risk factors was done in those who had two or more of the five measured conventional risk factors.We compared the distribution of risk factors between men and women. Among 2424 elderly included in the study (51% women, mean age 67), the prevalence of smokeless tobacco use was 50.8% (95% CI 48.1-52.8; smoking 10.5% (95% CI 9.3-11.8); and hypertension46.3% (95% CI 44.3-48.4). Only 10.2% participants were previously known to have had hypertension, and remaining 36.1% were detected to be hypertensive during the survey. A total of 8.2%(95% CI 7.0-9.5) participants were overweight and 4.1% (95% CI 3.3-4.9) had central obesity. The prevalence of dyslipidemia in those who underwent blood based tests was 40.6% (95% CI 36.5-44.9); and hyperglycemia 4.9% (95% CI 3.2-7.1). Conclusions: Strategies to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disorders among elderly should be focused on reducing tobacco use and early detection and optimal control of hypertension.
Key words: Cardiovascular, Elderly, Epidemiology, Risk factors.