Objectives: To analyse whether there is an association between country of birth in first-generation immigrants and first hospitalization for or death from coronary heart disease (CHD) and to analyse whether this association remains in second-generation immigrants.
Design: In this follow-up study, the MigMed database at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, was used to identify all hospital diagnoses of and deaths from incident CHD in first- and second-generation immigrants in Sweden between 1 January 1987 and 31 December 2001. Incidence ratios standardized by age, geographical region and socio-economic status were estimated by sex in first- and second-generation immigrants; the reference group was Swedish-born people whose parents were both born in Sweden.
Subjects: The total Swedish population aged 25-69 years.
Results: First-generation immigrants from Finland, central European countries, other eastern European countries and Turkey had higher rates of CHD than men or women in the reference group. First-generation immigrant women born in southern Europe, other western European countries and Baltic countries had lower CHD risks than the reference group. Sons of both male and female first-generation immigrants showed CHD risks similar to or slightly higher than those of their parents. Amongst second-generation women, only subjects with Finnish fathers or mothers had higher risks of developing CHD than the reference.
Conclusions: Increased risks of CHD found in some first-generation immigrant groups often persist in second-generation immigrant men. Healthcare professionals and policy makers should take this into account when designing and undertaking measures to prevent CHD.