This article at Newsday.com talks about the release of the findings of a major study being presented at the Annual Meeting of the European Society of Cardiology.

The research […] followed 29,000 people in 52 countries. It took a decade and 262 scientists to complete the work, which, according to the editor of The Lancet medical journal, is probably the most robust study on heart disease risk factors ever conducted.

The scientists, who concluded that about 90 percent of the risk factors for heart attacks can be prevented, are scheduled to published the findings in The Lancet next week.

[…] “It is clear that not a single continent, not a single civilization, not a single race, can be spared from cardiovascular disease, which will hit humankind more dangerously than the Black Death in the Middle Ages,” said Bassand, who was not connected with the study or the publication. “What we need is political action.”

[…] A bad cholesterol profile, measured using a new test considered better than the standard one that looks at the balance between good HDL cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol, was the most important risk factor.

Smoking was the next most important player, followed by diabetes, high blood pressure and a fat belly.

Stress came next, followed by inadequate fruit and vegetable intake, then lack of exercise. Light to moderate alcohol consumption was found to be of slight benefit.

[…] The study implies that the main way to tackle the problem is societal change, including better urban planning and health-promoting food policies and advertising regulations, experts said.

The study comes on the heels of a World Health Organization vote in May to implement a global strategy on diet and exercise aimed at combatting obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other illness linked to an unhealthy lifestyle.