CVDs, The Silent Killer

I should begin my opening remarks with a confession. My educational background has nothing to do with medicine.

As a person detached from medicine discipline, when preparing this remarks, I come across with a set of eye-opening facts from World Health Organization (WHO, 2021) regarding the cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), the area of concern of the conference. WHO reported that each year 17.9 million die from CVDs. This figure is estimated 32% of all deaths worldwide. What makes this case miserable is the fact that more than 75% (13.4 million) of CVD deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

I do believe that Indonesia still belongs to this unfortunate group. The existing data substantiates this claim.

For example, I also come across with a study by Hussain et al. (2016). They found that CVDs are responsible for roughly one third of all deaths in Indonesia. Another study by Maharani et al. (2019) also supports this finding. Based on a survey from more than 22,000 respondents, the study found that 29.2% of them have cardiovascular risks.

These findings are confirming the similar figures worldwide, except for one aspect. The aspect is a somehow paradoxical, that as acommon person, I am very eager to know the answer. The answers may be already available but scattered here and there.

After reading the report from WHO, I was assuming that poverty and low educational level, which both are commonplace in low-income countries, have positive connection with the high prevalence of CVDs. But, the findings from Indonesian context, challenge my assumption.

A study by Adisasmito et al. (2020) revealed that the CVDs risk factors is high and increasing in urban areas (not in rural ones) and associated with those with higher income and educational levels (not lower income and educational levels).

We then may pose an intriguing question: how to explain these “paradoxical” findings? One of the possible answers may relate to lifestyle, such as smoking, physical inactivity, and obesity. But, I will not pretend to be a knowledgeable expert, here. Please read the data I presented cautiously.

I should leave this question open to be answered by the legitimate experts in a series of  discussions in this conference.


Adisasmito, W., Amir, V., Atin, A., Megraini, A., & Kusuma, D. (2020). Geographic and socioeconomic disparity in cardiovascular risk factors in Indonesia: analysis of the Basic Health Research 2018. BMC Public Health20(1), 1-13.

Hussain, M. A., Al Mamun, A., Peters, S. A., Woodward, M., & Huxley, R. R. (2016). The burden of cardiovascular disease attributable to major modifiable risk factors in Indonesia. Journal of Epidemiology, JE20150178.

Maharani, A., Praveen, D., Oceandy, D., Tampubolon, G., & Patel, A. (2019). Cardiovascular disease risk factor prevalence and estimated 10-year cardiovascular risk scores in Indonesia: The SMARThealth Extend study. PloS One14(4), e0215219.

WHO (2021). Cardiovascular Diseases. Available online at topics/cardiovascular-diseases

Opening remarks at the 3rd International Conference on Cardiovascular Diseases (ICCVD 2021), held by the Faculty of Medicine, Universitas Islam Indonesia., 21 October 2021.