(HealthDay News) – Variation in risk-factor burden results in considerable differences in the lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease, and these differences are consistent across race and birth cohorts, according to a meta-analysis published in the January 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Jarett D. Berry, M.D., from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and colleagues used data from 18 cohort studies, including 257,384 black and white men and women, to perform a meta-analysis at the individual level. Risk factors for cardiovascular disease were measured at age 45, 55, 65, and 75 years, and participants were stratified into five categories of risk based on blood pressure, cholesterol level, smoking status, and diabetes status.

The investigators found that, across risk-factor strata, there were marked differences in the lifetime risks of cardiovascular disease. A substantially lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease was seen for participants aged 55 to 80 years with an optimal risk-factor profile, compared with participants with two or more major risk factors. Lower lifetime risks for fatal coronary heart disease, nonfatal myocardial infarction, and fatal or nonfatal stroke were seen for those with an optimal risk-factor profile. Across diverse birth cohorts, similar trends within risk-factor strata were seen among blacks and whites.

“The presence of elevated levels of risk factors at all ages translated into markedly higher lifetime risks of cardiovascular disease across the lifespan. These findings were consistent across risk-factor strata among both blacks and whites and across multiple birth cohorts,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies, including Merck and Abbott.

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)