Age relations of cardiovascular risk factors in a traditional Melanesian society: the Kitava Study

Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Oct;66(4):845-52. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/66.4.845.


This study examined cross-sectional age relations of blood pressure, anthropometric indexes, serum lipids, and hemostatic variables in 203 subsistence horticulturists aged 20-86 y in Kitava, Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea. The population is characterized by extreme leanness (despite food abundance), low blood pressure, low plasma plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 activity, and rarity of cardiovascular disease. Tubers, fruit, fish, and coconut are dietary staples whereas dairy products, refined fat and sugar, cereals, and alcohol are absent and salt intake is low. Although diastolic blood pressure was not associated with age in Kitavans, systolic blood pressure increased linearly after 50 y of age in both sexes. Body mass index decreased with age in both sexes. Serum total cholesterol, triacylglycerol, low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol, and apolipoprotein B increased in males between 20 and 50 y of age, whereas high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol and apolipoprotein A-I decreased. There were no significant differences in these indexes with age in the few females studied. A slight linear age-related increase of lipoprotein(a) was present in males. Plasma fibrinogen, factor VII clotting activity, factor VIII clotting activity, and von Willebrand factor antigen increased with age in both sexes but plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 activity did not. The modest or absent relations between the indexes measured and age are apparently important explanations of the virtual nonexistence of stroke and ischemic heart disease in Kitava.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / blood
  • Aging / metabolism
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Papua New Guinea / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Characteristics


  • Lipids