The changing patterns of cardiovascular diseases and their risk factors in the states of India: the Global Burden of Disease Study 1990–2016

Published September 12, 2018, in The Lancet Global Health (opens in a new window)


The burden of cardiovascular diseases is increasing in India, but a systematic understanding of its distribution and time trends across all the states is not readily available. In this report, we present a detailed analysis of how the patterns of cardiovascular diseases and major risk factors have changed across the states of India between 1990 and 2016.


We analyzed the prevalence and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) due to cardiovascular diseases and the major component causes in the states of India from 1990 to 2016, using all accessible data sources as part of the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2016. We placed states into four groups based on epidemiological transition level (ETL), defined using the ratio of DALYs from communicable diseases to those from non-communicable diseases and injuries combined, with a low ratio denoting high ETL and vice versa. We assessed heterogeneity in the burden of major cardiovascular diseases across the states of India, and the contribution of risk factors to cardiovascular diseases. We calculated 95% uncertainty intervals (UIs) for the point estimates.


Overall, cardiovascular diseases contributed 28.1% (95% UI 26.5–29.1) of the total deaths and 14.1% (12.9–15.3) of the total DALYs in India in 2016, compared with 15.2% (13.7–16.2) and 6.9% (6.3–7.4), respectively, in 1990. In 2016, there was a nine times difference between states in the DALY rate for ischemic heart disease, a six times difference for stroke, and a four times difference for rheumatic heart disease. 23.8 million (22.6–25.0) prevalent cases of ischemic heart disease were estimated in India in 2016, and 6.5 million (6.3–6.8) prevalent cases of stroke, a 2.3 times increase in both disorders from 1990. The age-standardized prevalence of both ischemic heart disease and stroke increased in all ETL state groups between 1990 and 2016, whereas that of rheumatic heart disease decreased; the increase for ischemic heart disease was highest in the low ETL state group. 53.4% (52.6–54.6) of crude deaths due to cardiovascular diseases in India in 2016 were among people younger than 70 years, with a higher proportion in the low ETL state group. The leading overlapping risk factors for cardiovascular diseases in 2016 included dietary risks (56.4% [95% CI 48.5–63.9] of cardiovascular disease DALYs), high systolic blood pressure (54.6% [49.0–59.8]), air pollution (31.1% [29.0–33.4]), high total cholesterol (29.4% [24.3–34.8]), tobacco use (18.9% [16.6–21.3]), high fasting plasma glucose (16.7% [11.4–23.5]), and high body mass index (14.7% [8.3–22.0]). The prevalence of high systolic blood pressure, high total cholesterol, and high fasting plasma glucose increased generally across all ETL state groups from 1990 to 2016, but this increase was variable across the states; the prevalence of smoking decreased during this period in all ETL state groups.


The burden from the leading cardiovascular diseases in India – ischemic heart disease and stroke – varies widely between the states. Their increasing prevalence and that of several major risk factors in every part of India, especially the highest increase in the prevalence of ischemic heart disease in the less developed low ETL states, indicates the need for urgent policy and health system response appropriate for the situation in each state.

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India State-Level Disease Burden Initiative CVD Collaborators. The changing patterns of cardiovascular diseases and their risk factors in the states of India: the Global Burden of Disease Study 1990–2016. The Lancet Global Health. 12 September 2018. doi:10.1016/S2214-109X(18)30407-8.