Life-expectancy in Russia

Since 2005 life expectancy in Russia has been increasing among men and women. However despite this progress, it still lags behind that of many European countries. Compared to Norway, for example, in 2014 it was 15 years less for men (80 vs. 65 years) and 8 years less for women (84 vs. 76 years).

Importance of cardiovascular disease

One of the key reasons for this life expectancy gap is the particularly high mortality from cardiovascular disease (CVD) that has been a feature of Russia for over 50 years. The International Project on Cardiovascular Disease in Russia (IPCDR) was set up in 2014 to undertake a comprehensive and in depth investigation of this serious public health question.

Our high-level aims

The overall aims of IPCDR are:

  1. To understand why Russia still has such high mortality from CVD compared to most other industrialised countries despite recent declines;
  2. To work out what steps could be taken to bring Russian CVD mortality closer to that of other countries.

A comprehensive assessment

To do this we have assembled a team of leading scientists from Russia, Norway, Germany and the United Kingdom to address this challenge. They include cardiologists, epidemiologists, demographers, laboratory scientists, statisticians and sociologists. To make progress it has been necessary to look at this complex problem from a range of perspectives. In particular IPCDR has addressed the following issues :

  • How far are the data on cardiovascular disease mortality in Russia directly comparable with those from Russia? Could these comparisons be biased in some way due to differences in classification of cause of death for example?
  • What can we say about the prevalence of known CVD risk factors in Russia if we pull together for the first time data that already exists from previous surveys and epidemiological studies? In this we seek to generate the most definitive evidence to date about CVD risk factors in Russia over time and between different sections of the population.
  • Given the very high mortality from CVD in Russia compared to countries like Norway, what do we find if we look in detail at the cardiovascular health of random samples of the population in Russia and Norway? This will hopefully identify key differences between countries in how the heart functions or in biological risk factors that will help us understand why Russian mortality is so high by international standards.
  • Over the past thirty years there have been major improvements in the detection and treatment of cardiovascular disease in many countries. We are looking at how far these improvements have reached the Russian population in respect to things like management of hypertension in primary care or emergency treatment of people who have had a heart attack.

Developing and disseminating better evidence

The ultimate aim of the project is to provide strong objective scientific evidence that can help the development of even more effective strategies for treatment and prevention of CVD in Russia. In doing this we also believe we will generate knowledge about the causes of CVD mortality that will be of benefit to scientists and public health specialists whatever the country they work in. A key part of IPCDR is thus the communication of our findings to relevant professionals and the public in Russia and elsewhere.