Life-course risk factor levels and coronary artery calcification. The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study

Int J Cardiol. 2016 Dec 15;225:23-29. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2016.09.080. Epub 2016 Sep 28.


Background: Risk factors measured in early life have been shown to predict coronary artery calcium (CAC) in adulthood. However, limited data exist on when risk factor profiles of those who develop CAC diverge from those who do not. We investigated the associations of coronary heart disease risk factor trajectories beginning in adolescence and CAC measured at middle-age.

Methods: CAC was measured among 589 participants aged 39-45years in whom cardiovascular risk factors (serum lipids, blood pressure, body mass index, physical activity, smoking habits, and fruit, vegetable, fish, and butter intake) had been collected in 1980, 1983, 1986, 2001, and 2007 as part of the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study.

Results: Mean levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), total cholesterol, apolipoprotein B (Apo-B), and systolic blood pressure (SBP) levels across the 27-year period were significantly higher among those with CAC vs. those without. The difference between the groups was 0.25mmol/l (95% confidence interval, 95%CI, 0.079-0.41) for LDL-C, 0.26mmol/l (95%CI 0.080-0.44) for total cholesterol, 0.05mmol/l (95%CI 0.0085-0.091) for Apo-B and 1.92mmHg (95%CI 0.10-3.74) for SBP after adjustment for other risk factors. Those with CAC at age 39-45years had higher serum lipid levels already in adolescence or early adulthood compared with those without CAC, with these differences becoming more pronounced during the life-course.

Conclusions: Long-time risk factor exposure to higher LDL-C, total cholesterol and Apo-B levels already starting in adolescence and higher SBP levels in adulthood is associated with CAC at middle-age.

Keywords: Atherosclerosis; Coronary artery calcium; Life-course analysis; Risk factors.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Apolipoproteins B / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Cohort Studies
  • Coronary Artery Disease / blood*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnosis
  • Coronary Artery Disease / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Vascular Calcification / blood*
  • Vascular Calcification / diagnosis
  • Vascular Calcification / epidemiology*


  • Apolipoproteins B
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Cholesterol