In Western countries, it has been shown that coronary heart disease (CHD) is related to high serum total cholesterol (TC) levels. In less developed continents such as Asia and Africa, serum lipid levels are low and CHD incidence is much lower as compared with Western countries. With growing urbanization and industrialization in Asia, it has been shown that there is a concomitant rise in the level of serum TC and with it a rise in CHD. In all the Asian countries, serum TC levels are also higher in the urban compared with the rural population. Singapore, the only Asian country which is 100% urbanized since 1980, showed a rise of serum TC similar to that seen in the US and UK from the 1950s to the 1980s followed thereafter by a fall. This is reflected in the trend (rise followed by a fall) of CHD morbidity and mortality as well. In spite of a declining trend in serum TC level, CHD morbidity and mortality are still high in Singapore and comparable to the Western countries. The rest of the Asian countries show a different pattern from Singapore. In general, there is still a rising trend in serum TC level and in CHD mortality in most Asian countries. However, Japan is considered an exception in having a decreasing CHD mortality in spite of an increasing trend in serum TC. This may be attributed to a better control of other CHD risk factors such as hypertension and smoking. The rising trend in serum TC level remains a cause for concern, as this will emerge as a major problem for CHD morbidity and mortality in the future.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.