The Influence of Culture on Cardiovascular Diseases

Panel organiser:

Name Email
Jean-Yves Tano jean-yves.tano@charite.de

Summary

Non-communicable diseases (ncds) cause significant physical, emotional and economic damages for individuals, families and governments worldwide. Low and middle-income countries are the most affected, and with approximately 80% of the world population and a limited ability to provide high quality health care to their citizens, it is imperative to find other solutions. In China for example, 230 million people have cardiovascular disease (CVD) according to official statistics. Interestingly, a wealth of available data indicates that lifestyle changes such as the consumption of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, reduction in tobacco use and moderate physical activity are preventive measures that can limit the onset of these diseases and even reverse the trends observed. Despite these recommendations from most health agencies (WHO included), the number of cases continues to rise worldwide.

Culture, similarly to diet plays an important factor impacting health. In fact, the concept of cultural consonance, defined as the degree to which individuals approximate in their own (personal) belief or behaviors, patterns encoded in shared cultural models has been demonstrated to influence the health of individuals. In this respect, it would be important to further scrutinize the role of culture in the rise of cardiovascular and other lifestyle-related non-communicable diseases. The concept of culture (as shared conventional practices) has emerged as a powerful means for understanding the sharp rise in certain lifestyle diseases; many ncds today are significantly mediated by migration, modernization, mobility, social alienation, and globalization processes more generally. These features of 21st-century life have contributed to the rapprochement of populations, and the transfer of practices and values throughout the world.

Modernization, particularly in low and middle-income countries influences the rise in lifestyle-related ncds. This is accompanied by a change in cultural context, which also influences an increase in the risk factors for individuals (unhealthy diet, tobacco use, hypertension, increased blood glucose, physical inactivity, obesity). Our workshop will examine the relationship between culture and the rise in CVD and attempt to determine which cultural elements are higher risk factors. In addition, we will attempt to foster the concept of interdisciplinary research between the biomedical sciences and the humanities.

Impressions of ICTAM IX

  • Impressions of ICTAM IX, 2017, by Matthias Burmeister, ICTAM IX Filmteam