Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality among Caribbean and Irish origin people living in England and Wales. Yet mortality from coronary heart disease (CHD) of migrant Caribbeans is lower than the national average, while stroke mortality is higher. The Irish experience higher than average mortality from both diseases. Little is known about the health of the children of these migrants. The Health Survey for England (HSE) 1999 was used to investigate for the first time cardiovascular risk factors in UK-born Caribbeans aged 35-44 and Irish aged 35-44 and 45-54 years. Caribbean men were more likely to smoke but had higher mean HDL-cholesterol than men in the general population. Caribbean women had greater body mass indices and lower mean triglyceride levels. Irish men in both age groups smoked more than men in the general population, but in the younger group had lower diastolic blood pressure (BP). At age 35-44 only, Irish women were shorter than women in the general population. These findings were independent of differences in socio-economic position. Previously, Caribbean-born migrants to Britain had generally favourable lipid profiles in line with lower CHD rates, despite obesity and diabetes. The nationally representative but small-scale data presented here suggest that UK-born Caribbeans appear to be losing this more favourable lipid pattern and among men smoking rates are now higher compared with general population men, suggesting that an increase in CHD rates can be expected. Further research should examine how improved education and specific intervention programs could be used to reduce smoking among UK-born Irish and Caribbean men, and obesity among UK-born Caribbean women. The next HSE also needs to include adequate numbers of younger people of different ethnic origins to allow time trends in these anthropometric, behavioural and metabolic risk factors to be examined reliably and fully.
Copyright 2004 Elsevier Ireland Ltd