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The 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health
Building capacity for a tobacco-free world
July 12-15, 2006, Washington, DC, USA
Objective: In Guatemala, cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are becoming the leading cause of mortality and morbidity but there is limited information about the prevalence and attitudes of CVD risk factors (RF). Therefore, we sought to determine the prevalence of and attitudes towards CVD RF in Villa Nueva, which is a community representative of most urban areas of Guatemala. Objectives: i) to investigate the prevalence of tobacco smoking and other RF in the adult population and ii) to assess perceptions, knowledge and beliefs about CVD in community members, health workers and policy makers.
Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of 1397 subjects, 20-80 years old. We interviewed participants with a questionnaire to ask about tobacco use and other lifestyle habits. Anthropometric measurements were taken, and blood samples were obtained for analysis. Through qualitative methods (focus group discussions and in-depth interviews) we evaluated attitudes about CVD and RF of community members, health workers, and policy makers.
Results: The study showed high prevalence of RF: tobacco smoking (16%), sedentarism (51%), overweight (54%), diabetes (8%), hypertension (13%), and high blood cholesterol (35%). According to health professionals and policy makers, the adoption of Western lifestyles by the population was the most important contributor to the increase of CVD. Community members perceived CVD as a serious health problem that has increased in recent years. They viewed smoking as a cause of heart attacks, lung cancer and other lung conditions. There was a general opinion that Guatemala lacks proper regulations and infrastructure to control smoking and other RF.