Objectives: the incidence of cardiovascular disease has declined rapidly in Sweden since the 1980s. We explored changes in major cardiovascular risk factors in northern Sweden between 1986 and 2009.
Design: since 1986, six population surveys have been carried out in northern Sweden using procedures of the World Health Organization MONICA project. The population age range was 25-64 years in 1986 and 1990, and 25-74 years from 1994. Trends were analysed using generalized linear models.
Results: a total of 10586 subjects were included in the surveys. Blood pressure decreased by 4.9/3.9 mmHg in women and 1.8/1.5 mmHg in men aged 25-64 years between 1986 and 2009. In men and women aged 65-74 years, the decrease was 12.6/6.1 mmHg between 1994 and 2009. From 1994, the use of blood pressure-lowering drugs increased, particularly among the older subgroup. The prevalence of smoking halved between 1986 and 2009; 11% of women and 9% of men were smokers in 2009. Cholesterol levels decreased by 0.9 mmol L(-1) in the younger age group (25-64 years), and the use of lipid-lowering agents increased from 1994. Among subjects aged 25-64 years, one in five was obese in 2009, which was twice as many as in 1986, and body mass index (BMI) increased by 1.5 kg m(-2) , corresponding to an increase in weight of 4 kg. There was no further increase in BMI from 2004. The prevalence of diabetes did not change between 1986 and 2009. The proportion that received a university education increased markedly in all age groups, especially in women, during the study period.
Conclusions: significant improvements were observed in major cardiovascular risk factors in northern Sweden between 1986 and 2009.