Russia Leads the World in Deaths from Cardiovascular Disease (CVD): An In-Pulse CPR Special Report

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of mortality globally. Among countries worldwide, Russia stands out for its disproportionately high rate of heart disease and related complications, such as sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). 

What CPR Training Provider, In-Pulse CPR, Has Learned

In-Pulse CPR, which holds CPR classes in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Minnesota, has just issued the following special world report. The company notes that Russia leads the world in CVD because of increased risks due to smoking, drinking, poor nutrition, physical inactivity, and a lack of advanced medical prevention and care.

What In-Pulse Research Reveals

According to the website, World Population Review, Russia has 1,752 cardiovascular deaths per 100,000 people annually. Nearly 60% of the deaths are attributed to heart disease. The majority of these deaths happen in Russia’s northwestern territories.

Smoking: a Major Health Risk Among Indigenous Populations

An article dated November 3, 2021 in Global Epidemiology stated that premature deaths, due to tobacco use in Russia, affects 400,000 people each year. Also, smoking is a leading risk among males who succumb to cardiovascular disease. Respiratory diseases are rated first among indigenous people across all age groups in Russia.

Indeed, smoking cigarettes among indigenous populations happens regularly. On average, this segment of the Russian population begins smoking in late childhood or during the early teen years.. 

For example, one research study of Saami Russians in 2005 found that almost 60% of school-aged students, aged 15 to 18 years old (30% of girls and 63% of boys), regularly smoked. Moreover, most of the students began the habit, on average, at 12 to 13 years old, smoking about 7 cigarettes daily.

Another study, published on September 1, 2020, in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health revealed further evidence of Russia’s high mortality rates due to CVD. Comparisons of Russian blood-based markers with biomarkers in Norway showed the death rates of Russians, 35 to 69 years old, as eight times higher than their neighbors. 

High Consumptions of Alcohol

Historically, Russians were not always the heaviest drinkers of alcohol in Europe. However, during the past 20 years, alcohol consumption has risen. About 10 to 15 liters of alcoholic beverages are consumed per person per year.

In fact, one finding in 2004 found that 70% of men and around 47% of women drank alcohol on a regular basis. Also, about 30% of teens drank alcohol. Around 70% of the population consumed strong alcoholic beverages.

A Poor Diet

The Russian diet also plays a major role in heart health. Typically, the Russian diet is rich in trans fats, salt, and sugars while being low in fruits and vegetables. Such dietary patterns are associated with increased blood pressure and cholesterol levels, contributing significantly to CVD.

The Washington Post reported that the life expectancy of men in Russia is 59 years shorter than men in three-fourths of the countries worldwide, including less prosperous nations like Vietnam and Nicaragua.

One Patient’s Story

For example, take the case of one man, aged 40, who has already had two heart attacks. He has smoked two packs of cigarettes a day since the tender age of 15, does not exercise, binge drinks up to eight pints of vodka each day, and regularly eats a diet of sausage.

Working as a welder, he can hardly afford a bypass procedure. While he thinks he can continue working, he’ll end up being an invalid. A country has to have a healthy workforce to have a healthy economy.

High Fat Foods Get Top Billing 

Moreover, high-fat foods are so popular in Russia that some of the country’s restaurants feature a chunk of salted pork fat as a stand-alone food. 

Exercise is Not a Regular Activity

Only 6% of Russians exercise regularly, and Russia has a large population (144 million in 2022). A poor diet and inactivity leads to problems with obesity and CVD.

The Lack of Preventive Care

Mortality rates are so high because of the Russians’ risk-prone lifestyle. Government officials and doctors do not stress preventive care. For decades, Communism drilled into workers’ minds that the government would take care of all of their medical needs. Therefore, the mantra of preventive medicine was not reinforced, and still is being ignored today.

In fact, access to high-quality healthcare is not known across Russia. The healthcare system faces specific challenges – such as underfunding, staff shortages, and limited availability of advanced treatments. All these factors make it difficult to adequately treat the CVD.

Studies in the Russian Federation have been conducted on CPR training – and have been mainly directed to doctors and students in the medical field. 

Most of the studies focused on a healthcare giver’s  theoretical knowledge about basic life support and cardiopulmonary resuscitation without AED intervention. More training is needed in the healthcare field and more information about the basic life support and CPR needs to be distributed overall.

Climate and Environmental Stress

Harsh climate conditions, particularly prolonged and extreme cold, can increase the risk of hypertension, adding a strain on the heart. Moreover, industrial pollution has been recognized as a contributing factor to problems with CVD.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Russia

When referring to heart disease rates, it’s essential to include sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), a severe manifestation that occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating. Russia’s high rate of heart disease directly translates to a heightened risk of SCA.

The Pathophysiology of SCA

SCA is often caused by arrhythmias, such as ventricular fibrillation, where the heart’s electrical activity becomes disordered, and the heart can’t pump blood effectively. Underlying heart diseases, such as coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathy, significantly raise the risk of SCA.

3 Contributing Factors to SCA in Russia

1. Delayed Response and Lack of Awareness. Rapid response and immediate medical intervention are critical for survival in SCA scenarios. In Russia, a delay in emergency medical services and a general lack of public awareness about SCA increases fatalities.

2. Prevalence of Underlying Heart Conditions. As previously described, the high prevalence of underlying heart conditions in the population significantly elevates the likelihood of SCA.

3. Limited Public Access Automated External Defibrillation Programs. The availability of automated external defibrillators (AEDs)* in public places is limited in Russia, thereby reducing the chances of survival from SCA in out-of-hospital settings. 

*(Learn more about AEDs on the In-Pulse website. To understand more about the features of AEDs and their importance in public settings, visit the In-Pulse website, a leading provider of CPR training and AED products online).


The notably high rate of CVD in Russia is a multifaceted public health issue with deep-rooted causes. The combination of unhealthy lifestyles, socioeconomic challenges, strained healthcare systems, and insufficient public health policies increases the prevalence of CVD along with sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

Author: Donna Ryan is a health writer in Tucson, AZ.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *