Objectives: The purpose of this study was to review cardiovascular mortality, morbidity, and risk factors in the multiethnic population of the Northwest Territories, Canada.
Methods: We analyzed death certificates and hospital records, and used a community health and examination survey.
Results: The age-standardized mortality rate for ischemic heart disease (but not for other heart diseases or stroke) among the Northwest Territories population was lower than among the Canadian population. Among the indigenous Inuit/Eskimos and Indians, the age-standardized mortality rate for all circulatory diseases was lower than Canadians. Among Indian women, the rate approached the Canadian rate and exceeded that of Inuit and non-Natives. Compared with residents of Manitoba, Northwest Territories Inuit adults had a higher prevalence of smoking in all age-sex groups. Obesity was prevalent among older Inuit women and hypertension among young Inuit men. Except for women aged 25 to 44, the total cholesterol and triglyceride levels among Inuit were lower than or not different from Manitoba residents. Relatively high levels of high-density lipoprotein were found in older Inuits.
Conclusions: The epidemiologic pattern of cardiovascular diseases in Arctic Canada differs from that among non-Native, southern Canadians. Rapid sociocultural changes may alter the situation, and health agencies must anticipate such transitions and intensify culturally appropriate control programs.