High and increasing cardiovascular risk in Myanmar

Aung Soe Htet‘s PhD thesis shows an increase in risk factors for cardiovascular disease in Myanmar from 2004 to 2014.


  1. The number of individuals with high cardiovascular risk is alarmingly high in urban as well as rural Yangon, a region in Myanmar.
  2. The prevalence of hypertension increased severely in Myanmar between 2004 and 2014.
  3. More than half of the inhabitants in urban Yangon have high cholesterol.


Thesis: The Prevalence of selected risk factors for non-communicable diseases among 25-74-year-old citizens of the Yangon Region, Myanmar: Urban-rural differences and changes from 2004 to 2014
Candidate: Aung Soe Htet
Time: April 18, 2018 at 13:15
Place: Oslo University Hospital, Ullevål: Department of Ophthalmology, Auditorium
Link to university website (in Norwegian)


(1) One third of the adult population in urban parts of the Yangon region, Myanmar have moderate to high estimated 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease. Among the inhabitants in rural Yangon, the amount is 27 %. 1486 individuals participated in the study, and data was collected in 2013 and 2014.

Urban inhabitants drink significantly more alcohol and eats less fruits and vegetables, compared to rural inhabitants. The also tend to have more of several other behavioual risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Conversely, the metabolic risk factors diabetes and obesity were more prevalent in rural Yangon.

(2) In 2004, 26,7 % of the inhabitants had high blood pressure. The prevalence increased to 34,6 % in 2014. The increase was seen in both urban and rural areas of Yangon, and both systolic and diastolic blood pressure increased. The prevalence of known hypertension increased over the years, but the amount of patients being treated did not.

Hypertension was significantly associated with age, alcohol consumption, overweight and diabetes in 2004 as well as in 2014. In 2004, low physical activity and low HDL cholesterol were also associated with hypertension. 4448 participants were included in 2004 and 1486 were included in 2014.

(3) Almost half of the inhabitants in the Yangon region have high cholesterol, and the lipid profil is worse in urban compared to rural areas. In urban Yangon, the researchers found high total cholesterol among 51 %, and low HDL cholesterol among 61 %. These numbers were 42 % and 44 % in rural Yangon.

Men had higher levels of triglycerides than women, whereas women more often had high LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol.


(1) Htet, A. S., Bjertness, M. B., Sherpa, L. Y., Kjøllesdal, M. K., Oo, W. M., Meyer, H. E., Stigum, H., & Bjertness, E. (2016). Urban-rural differences in the prevalence of non-communicable diseases risk factors among 25–74 years old citizens in Yangon Region, Myanmar: a cross sectional studyBMC public health16(1), 1225.

(2) Htet, A. S., Bjertness, M. B., Oo, W. M., Kjøllesdal, M. K., Sherpa, L. Y., Zaw, K. K., Stigum, H., Meyer, H. E., & Bjertness, E. (2017). Changes in prevalence, awareness, treatment and control of hypertension from 2004 to 2014 among 25-74-year-old citizens in the Yangon Region, MyanmarBMC public health17(1), 847.

(3) Htet, A. S., Kjøllesdal, M. K., Aung, W. P., Myint, A. N. M., Aye, W. T., Wai, M. M., Nu, T. T., Hla, E. M., Soe, P. P., Tun, N. W. Y., Angela, N., Khaing, M. M., Htoo, A. K., Tun, S., Thitsar, P., Lwin, T., Wai, S. S., Aung, T. T., Thant, K. A., Po, W. W. A., Gauzam, S. T., Naing, T. T., Tun, T. M., Myint, K. S., Oo, K. K., Mang, N. K. M., Naing, S. M., Zaw, K. K., Bjerness, M. B., Sherpa, L. Y., Oo, W. M., Stigum, H., & Bjertness, E. (2017). Lipid profiles and determinants of total cholesterol and hypercholesterolaemia among 25–74 year-old urban and rural citizens of the Yangon Region, Myanmar: a cross-sectional studyBMJ open7(11), e017465.

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