Research Article

Decline in ischaemic heart disease in Iceland and change in risk factor levels.

BMJ 1991; 302 doi: (Published 08 June 1991) Cite this as: BMJ 1991;302:1371
  1. N Sigfusson,
  2. H Sigvaldason,
  3. L Steingrimsdottir,
  4. I I Gudmundsdottir,
  5. I Stefansdottir,
  6. T Thorsteinsson,
  7. G Sigurdsson
  1. Icelandic Heart Association, Reykjavik.


    OBJECTIVE--To monitor trends in mortality and morbidity due to ischaemic heart disease and compare these with observed levels of risk factors from population surveys. DESIGN--Analysis of trends in death rates from ischaemic heart disease in Iceland compared with expected rates computed from population surveys. Risk factor levels together with beta factors obtained from Cox's regression analysis were used to compute expected death rates. Trends in morbidity due to acute myocardial infarction were assessed and secular trends in dietary consumption compared with trends in cholesterol concentrations. SETTING--Reykjavik, Iceland (total population 250,000; over half the population live in Reykjavik). SUBJECTS--12,814 randomly selected residents in the Reykjavik area aged 45-64 (6623 men, 6191 women; 72% and 80% of those invited). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Age adjusted rates of myocardial infarction and deaths from ischaemic heart disease. Expected risk from risk factor levels (smoking, total serum cholesterol concentration, systolic blood pressure) at each unique survey visit. RESULTS--Mortality from ischaemic heart disease has decreased by 17-18% since 1970. During 1981-6 the myocardial infarction attack rate in men under 75 decreased by 23%. A decrease occurred in the level of all three major risk factors after 1968. The fall in the serum cholesterol concentration coincided with a reduction in consumption of dairy fat and margarine. The calculated reduction in risk for the age group 45-64 was about 35%, which was closely similar to the observed decrease in mortality due to ischaemic heart disease in that age group. CONCLUSION--The reduction in mortality from ischaemic heart disease was substantially due to a decreased incidence of myocardial infarction and could be attributed largely to the reduction in risk factors.