Trends in cardiovascular risk factor levels in Finnish children and young adults from the 1970s: The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study

Exp Clin Cardiol. 2006 Summer;11(2):83-8.


Objectives: The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study is an ongoing multicentre study of atherosclerosis precursors in Finnish children and young adults. The aim of the present report is to describe the secular trends in cardiovascular risk factors between 1980 and 2001 in children and young adults.

Methods: Data on cardiovascular risk factors were collected in a cohort of subjects (original n=3596) that were followed with serial cross-sectional studies from childhood to adulthood. The study was initiated in 1980, and the latest follow-up (after 21 years) was performed in 2001 (with n=2285 participants). To assess secular trends up to the year 2001, selected risk variables were analyzed (ie, total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein [LDL] cholesterol, high density lipoprotein [HDL] cholesterol, triglycerides, apolipoproteins A1 and B, blood pressure, body mass index [BMI] and daily intake of energy and quality of fat) in subjects with complete data for the years 1980, 1986 and 2001 (n=1758).

Results: From 1980 to 1986, LDL-cholesterol concentrations decreased 0.32 mmol/L (P<0.0001) in subjects aged 15 to 18 years. From 1986 to 2001, LDL concentrations did not change in 24-year-old subjects (delta=-0.12 mmol/L, P>0.05). HDL-cholesterol concentrations decreased 0.28 mmol/L (P<0.0001) from 1986 to 2001. Triglyceride concentrations increased 0.21 mmol/L (P<0.0001) from 1980 to 1986 and 0.26 mmol/L (P<0.0001) from 1986 to 2001. In female subjects, BMI increased both from 1980 to 1986 (delta=0.5 kg/m(2), P=0.03) and from 1986 to 2001 (delta=1.7 kg/m(2), P=0.0002). Systolic blood pressure levels decreased 3.7 mmHg (P<0.0001) from 1980 to 1986 and 7.0 mmHg (P<0.0001) from 1986 to 2001 in all subjects.

Conclusion: The authors conclude that between 1986 and 2001, the decreases in LDL-cholesterol concentrations among young adults in Finland stopped. During the same time, HDL-cholesterol concentrations started to decrease, and triglyceride concentrations continued to decrease, and in female subjects, BMI continued to increase. However, also during this time, blood pressure levels continued to decrease in all subjects.

Keywords: Blood pressure; Cardiovascular; Cholesterol; Obesity; Risk factors; Secular trend.