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Cardiology Research and Practice
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 921021, 6 pages
Review Article

Methodological Challenges in Estimating Trends and Burden of Cardiovascular Disease in Sub-Saharan Africa

1College of Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA 02125, USA
2Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA 02215, USA
3Seed Global Health, 125 Nashua Street, Suite 722, Boston, MA 02114, USA

Received 5 October 2015; Accepted 19 November 2015

Academic Editor: Chim Choy Lang

Copyright © 2015 Jacob K. Kariuki et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Although 80% of the burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is in developing countries, the 2010 global burden of disease (GBD) estimates have been cited to support a premise that sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is exempt from the CVD epidemic sweeping across developing countries. The widely publicized perspective influences research priorities and resource allocation at a time when secular trends indicate a rapid increase in prevalence of CVD in SSA by 2030. Purpose. To explore methodological challenges in estimating trends and burden of CVD in SSA via appraisal of the current CVD statistics and literature. Methods. This review was guided by the Critical review methodology described by Grant and Booth. The review traces the origins and evolution of GBD metrics and then explores the methodological limitations inherent in the current GBD statistics. Articles were included based on their conceptual contribution to the existing body of knowledge on the burden of CVD in SSA. Results/Conclusion. Cognizant of the methodological challenges discussed, we caution against extrapolation of the global burden of CVD statistics in a way that underrates the actual but uncertain impact of CVD in SSA. We conclude by making a case for optimal but cost-effective surveillance and prevention of CVD in SSA.