It is estimated that 54% of deaths from noncommunicable diseases in the Eastern Mediterranean Region are due to cardiovascular diseases. Deaths attributed to cardiovascular diseases (of total deaths) range from 49% in Oman to 13% in Somalia. The prevalence of cardiovascular diseases is due to sedentary lifestyles and common risk factors, such as hypertension (ranging from 28% in the United Arab Emirates to 41% in Libya and Morocco); diabetes (ranging from 4% in Islamic Republic of Iran to 19% in Sudan) and hypercholesterolemia (ranging from 14% in Lebanon to 52% in Islamic Republic of Iran).
Compiled data for adults, aged above 15 years, from the Region show the highest levels of overweight in Bahrain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, where the prevalence of overweight/obesity is reported to be over 70%, particularly among women. The escalating level of overweight and obesity among children is of particular concern, where prevalence of obesity among school children is increasing. The Region has higher rates of physical inactivity than other regions. About 50% of women and more than a third of men are insufficiently active. Tobacco use is also rising. The prevalence of smoking among adult men ranges from between 7% and 57%.
It is estimated that heart disease, stroke and diabetes alone will reduce gross domestic product from between 1% to 5% by 2015 in most low- and middle income-countries. Affordability and availability of essential medicines for the management of common cardiovascular diseases is a key challenge for low-resource countries of the Region.