Forty-year trends in cardiovascular risk factors in Finland

Eur J Public Health. 2015 Jun;25(3):539-46. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/cku174. Epub 2014 Nov 24.


Background: Finland has experienced remarkable changes in population levels of coronary heart disease risk factors and mortality over the past decades. The National FINRISK studies have monitored risk factors in major non-communicable diseases from 1972 to 2012. The 40-year changes in those risk factors are presented.

Methods: Study population included participants aged 30-59 years in the series on independent random population samples. Data were collected in 5-year intervals in 1972-2012. FINRISK studies so far comprised 53 589 men and women who participated in a health examination, gave a venous blood sample and filled in questionnaires. Serum total cholesterol, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and body mass index (BMI) were measured using standardized protocol, and smoking status was recorded.

Results: Total serum cholesterol decreased remarkably until 2007, but after that has increased. Systolic blood pressure has continued to decline over time since 1972, while decrease in diastolic blood pressure has levelled off during the last 10 years. Smoking prevalence has markedly decreased. BMI has increased in the population, but most significantly in the earlier survey years, not the past 10 years.

Conclusions: After three decades of favourable development, the population risk factor levels showed some increase in total cholesterol and diastolic blood pressure. This emphasizes the need for continued efforts towards national disease prevention and health promotion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Cholesterol