Background: Studies on coronary risk factors in men and women are mainly based on mortality data and few compare results of both sexes with consistent study design and diagnostic criteria. This study assesses the major risk factors for coronary events in men and women from the Reykjavik Study.
Design: Within a prospective, population-based cohort study individuals without history of myocardial infarction were identified and the relative risk of baseline variables was assessed in relation to verified myocardial infarction or coronary death during follow-up.
Methods: Of the 9681 women and 8888 men who attended risk assessment from 1967-1991, with follow-up period of up to 28 years, 706 women and 1700 men suffered a non-fatal myocardial infarction or coronary death.
Results: Serum cholesterol was a significant risk factor for both sexes, with hazard ratios (HR) decreasing with age. Systolic blood pressure was a stronger risk factor for women as was ECG-confirmed left ventricular hypertrophy (women HR 2.89, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.67-5.01; men HR 1.11 [CI 0.86-1.43]). Fasting blood glucose > or =6.7 mmol/L identified significantly higher risk for women (HR 2.65) than men (HR 2.08) as did self-reported diabetes. Triglyceride risk was significantly higher for women and decreased significantly with age. Smoking increased risk two- to five-fold, increasing with dose, for women, which was significantly higher than the doubling in risk for men.
Conclusions: This large study of the major risk factors compared between the sexes demonstrates similar relative risk of myocardial infarction associated with cholesterol for both sexes, however, the relative risk is higher in women for many other risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, elevated triglycerides and left ventricular hypertrophy.