Background: Diseases of the circulatory system (CVD) are the most common causes of death in developed countries. However, the prevalence of CVD varies between countries; for example, the mortality rate in Russia is about four times higher than in Western Europe. In a recent retrospective cohort study it was unexpectedly found that CVD mortality is lower among "Aussiedler" (ethnic Germans from the former Soviet Union) compared to the German population.
Methods: This is a case-control study, nested into a recent cohort study of migrants from the former Soviet Union. Relatives of cases and controls themselves were interviewed by telephone using a standardized questionnaire. To estimate relative risks via the odds ratio (OR), a conditional logistic regression procedure was performed.
Results: Commonly known risk factors for CVD were identified as relevant to Aussiedler. The best multivariate model for CVD includes five risk factors: consumption of alcohol, smoking, diabetes, cholesterol and consumption of sweets. For alcohol consumption and smoking, OR = 3.68 (95% CI, 1.58-8.58) and OR = 3.07 (95% CI, 1.42-6.62), respectively. For diabetes mellitus and high cholesterol values, OR = 3.29 (95% CI, 1.50-7.39) and OR = 2.32 (95% CI, 1.11-4.88), respectively. The almost complete abdication of sweets is associated with a protective effect, OR = 0.34 (95% CI, 0.18-0.64). The prevalence of risk factors is somewhat different to that of the autochthon German population and partly explains the differences in CVD mortality between both groups.
Conclusions: The reported lower prevalences of known risk factors of CVD such as alcohol consumption, high cholesterol, diabetes and smoking (in women) could contribute to a lower risk of CVD.