Promise of Prevention: Effects of 4 Risk Factors on U.S. Life Expectancy and Disparities

This analysis included 4 preventable risk factors:

- smoking
- high blood pressure
- elevated blood glucose
- adiposity

The researchers estimated the effects of these 4 preventable risk factors on national life expectancy and on disparities in life expectancy and disease-specific mortality among 8 subgroups of the US population (the “Eight Americas”). The groups were defined on the basis of race, location and socioeconomic characteristics of county of residence, in 2005.

Who has the lowest number of risk factors?

Asians had the lowest mean body mass index, fasting plasma glucose, and smoking; whites had the lowest systolic blood pressure (SBP).

Who has the highest number of risk factors?

Systolic blood pressure (SBP) was highest in blacks, especially in the rural South - 5-7 mmHg higher than whites. The other three risk factors were highest in Western Native Americans, Southern low-income rural blacks, and/or low-income whites in Appalachia and the Mississippi Valley.

How much shorter is life expectancy if you have the risk factors?

These 4 risk factors reduced life expectancy at birth by 5 years in men and 4 years in women.

Life expectancy effects were smallest in Asians (M, 4.1 y; F, 3.6 y) and largest in Southern rural blacks (M, 6.7 y; F, 5.7 y).

Smoking and high blood pressure had the largest effect on life expectancy disparities.

Disparities in the 4 risk factors (smoking, blood pressure, blood glucose, and adiposity) explain a significant proportion of disparities in mortality from cardiovascular diseases and cancers. They also explain some of the life expectancy disparities in the US.

New Cardiovascular Prevention Guidelines, 2013. Cleveland Clinic physicians, Dr. Rocco and Dr. Nissen answer questions about AHA/ACC Heart and Stroke Risk Factor Guidelines & what they mean for you on this spreecast video chat. (12/2013)

Danaei G, Rimm EB, Oza S, Kulkarni SC, Murray CJL, et al. (2010). The Promise of Prevention: The Effects of Four Preventable Risk Factors on National Life Expectancy and Life Expectancy Disparities by Race and County in the United States. PLoS Med 7(3): e1000248. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000248
Image source: Wikipedia, public domain.

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