Objective: To describe the distribution of plasma fibrinogen and relationships with other risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke in the black population of the Cape Peninsula.
Design: A cross-sectional survey of a stratified proportional sample of randomly selected black men and women.
Setting: Households in Gugulethu, Langa, Nyanga, New Crossroads, KTC, Old Crossroads and Khayelitsha in the Cape Peninsula, South Africa.
Subjects: One subject per household (352 men and 447 women), aged 15-64 years, voluntarily participated. Visitors, pregnant, lactating, ill, mentally retarded and intoxicated subjects were excluded.
Results: Mean fibrinogen (thrombin time coagulation method) of men and women were higher than published data for Europeans but slightly lower than values of black Americans. Women aged 45-54 years had the highest level (3.13+/-0.89 g l(-1)) and men aged 15-24 years had the lowest (2.13+/-0.88 g l(-1)). Fifteen per cent of the men and 12% of the women had a level greater than 1 standard deviation of the mean for their age group. Univariate and multivariate analyses revealed significant (P<0.05) positive correlations of fibrinogen with smoking habit, age, body mass index (BMI), total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure and white blood cell count, and significant negative correlations with high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, gamma glutamyl transferase (GGT), serum iron and ferritin. The correlations with BMI, serum lipoproteins, iron, ferritin, and GGT suggest that nutritional status and therefore diet influences plasma fibrinogen.
Conclusion: Relatively high fibrinogen levels, tending to cluster with other, including diet-related, risk factors for CHD and stroke, were observed in black South Africans. It is suggested that fibrinogen may contribute to the high stroke incidence of this population group.