High prevalence of markers of coronary heart disease among Greenland Inuit



      It is a common notion that coronary heart disease (CHD) is rare among the Inuit, possibly due to a high intake of omega-3-fatty acids. The scientific evidence for this is weak and to some extent based on uncertain mortality statistic. The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of markers of CHD among Greenland Inuit, and to study associations between markers of CHD and behavioral and biological variables.


      We studied prevalence of angina pectoris (AP), self-reported myocardial infarction (MI), and ECG defined MI and ischaemia in a population survey among 1316 Inuit living in Greenland. Blood tests were supplemented by structured interviews, anthropometry, and measurements of blood pressure, and the participants received an oral glucose tolerance test.


      The prevalence of symptomatic CHD (AP, self-reported MI) was 7.3% among men and 6.9% among women, and 12.2% and 13.4% of men and women had ischaemic ECG changes. The overall prevalence of CHD (AP + self-reported MI + ECG defined MI) was 10.8% in men and 10.2% in women. The highest prevalence was observed in the least westernized areas in Greenland. Physical inactivity, low education, dyslipidemia, hypertension and diabetes were associated with CHD.


      The prevalence of markers of CHD was not different from that in Western populations. The Inuit is a population undergoing rapid social and health transitions, with the emergence of cardiovascular risk factors, and there is a need for critical rethinking of cardiovascular epidemiology in this population.


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