Epidemiology and prevention of cardiovascular disease: Quo vadis?
With observational epidemiological studies it has been possible in the 1950–60 s to identify what has been called cardiovascular risk factors. The multifactorial origin of atherothrombotic cardiovascular disease has been elucidated and in multifactorial intervention trials it was demonstrated that lifestyle changes related to smoking, diet and exercise can prevent the incidence of premature cardiovascular events. The application of that knowledge at the level of the community has resulted in a reversal of the cardiovascular disease epidemic. More investment is needed in the prevention of the development of cardiovascular risk from childhood onwards. More studies are needed to examine the long-term effects of low-intensity exposure to environmental factors on the cardiovascular system using the most appropriate study design and biosensors. More epidemiological studies are needed to evaluate societal changes on cardiovascular disease. Given the actual knowledge on how to prevent cardiovascular disease there is a need for a shift from aetiological epidemiological research into preventive research.