Silvan Licher 1 , Alis Heshmatollah 1 , 2 , Kimberly D. van der Willik 1 , 3 , Bruno H. Ch. Stricker 1 , Rikje Ruiter 1 , Emmely W. de Roos 1 , 4 , Lies Lahousse 1 , 5 , Peter J. Koudstaal 2 , Albert Hofman 6 , Lana Fani 1 , Guy G. O. Brusselle 1 , 4 , 7 , Daniel Bos 1 , 6 , 8 , Banafsheh Arshi 1 , Maryam Kavousi 1 , Maarten J. G. Leening 1 , 6 , 9 , M. Kamran Ikram 1 , 2 , M. Arfan Ikram 1 , *
4 February 2019
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are leading causes of premature disability and death worldwide. However, the lifetime risk of developing any NCD is unknown, as are the effects of shared common risk factors on this risk.
Between July 6, 1989, and January 1, 2012, we followed participants from the prospective Rotterdam Study aged 45 years and older who were free from NCDs at baseline for incident stroke, heart disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative disease. We quantified occurrence/co-occurrence and remaining lifetime risk of any NCD in a competing risk framework. We additionally studied the lifetime risk of any NCD, age at onset, and overall life expectancy for strata of 3 shared risk factors at baseline: smoking, hypertension, and overweight. During 75,354 person-years of follow-up from a total of 9,061 participants (mean age 63.9 years, 60.1% women), 814 participants were diagnosed with stroke, 1,571 with heart disease, 625 with diabetes, 1,004 with chronic respiratory disease, 1,538 with cancer, and 1,065 with neurodegenerative disease. NCDs tended to co-occur substantially, with 1,563 participants (33.7% of those who developed any NCD) diagnosed with multiple diseases during follow-up. The lifetime risk of any NCD from the age of 45 years onwards was 94.0% (95% CI 92.9%–95.1%) for men and 92.8% (95% CI 91.8%–93.8%) for women. These risks remained high (>90.0%) even for those without the 3 risk factors of smoking, hypertension, and overweight. Absence of smoking, hypertension, and overweight was associated with a 9.0-year delay (95% CI 6.3–11.6) in the age at onset of any NCD. Furthermore, the overall life expectancy for participants without these risk factors was 6.0 years (95% CI 5.2–6.8) longer than for those with all 3 risk factors. Participants aged 45 years and older without the 3 risk factors of smoking, hypertension, and overweight at baseline spent 21.6% of their remaining lifetime with 1 or more NCDs, compared to 31.8% of their remaining life for participants with all of these risk factors at baseline. This difference corresponds to a 2-year compression of morbidity of NCDs. Limitations of this study include potential residual confounding, unmeasured changes in risk factor profiles during follow-up, and potentially limited generalisability to different healthcare settings and populations not of European descent.
Our study suggests that in this western European community, 9 out of 10 individuals aged 45 years and older develop an NCD during their remaining lifetime. Among those individuals who develop an NCD, at least a third are subsequently diagnosed with multiple NCDs. Absence of 3 common shared risk factors is associated with compression of morbidity of NCDs. These findings underscore the importance of avoidance of these common shared risk factors to reduce the premature morbidity and mortality attributable to NCDs.
M. Arfan Ikram & colleagues assess the burden and preventability of co-occurring non-communicable diseases in the population-based Rotterdam Study.
The burden and preventive potential of disease is typically estimated for each non-communicable disease (NCD) separately, yet NCDs often co-occur, which hampers reliable quantification of their overall burden as well as the potential to prevent NCDs jointly in the general population.
Smoking, hypertension, and overweight are 3 key risk factors that are shared by all NCDs, but their effects on the lifetime risk of developing any NCD, age at onset, and overall life expectancy with and without NCDs are uncertain.
Between 1989 and 2012, we continuously followed 9,061 community-dwelling individuals in the Dutch population-based Rotterdam Study for occurrence of NCDs (stroke, heart disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative disease).
Nine out of 10 community-dwelling individuals aged 45 years and older will develop any NCD during their lifetime, with a third of them developing multiple NCDs during follow-up.
Individuals without the 3 risk factors of smoking, hypertension, and overweight develop their first NCD on average 9 years later than those with all 3 risk factors.
Absence of smoking, hypertension, and overweight is associated with a longer overall life expectancy of about 6 years, and a 2-year compression in lifetime spent with NCDs.
In this western European community, we showed that the burden of NCDs in the general population is extensive and their multimorbidity is common.
Absence of smoking, hypertension, and overweight is associated with a longer overall life expectancy, and most of this increase is due to an extension of disease-free life expectancy. This means that individuals without these risk factors not only live longer than individuals with these risk factors, but also spend less of their lifetime after the onset of symptomatic disease (which is referred to as compression of morbidity).
These findings underscore the potential to substantially reduce premature NCD morbidity and mortality in the general population through prevention of smoking, hypertension, and overweight.