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Socioeconomic status and trends in risk factors for cardiovascular diseases in the Danish MONICA population, 1982–1992
  1. Merete Oslera,
  2. Lars Ulrik Gerdesa,
  3. Michael Davidsena,
  4. Henrik Brønnum-Hansena,
  5. Mette Madsena,
  6. Torben Jørgensenb,
  7. Marianne Schrollb
  1. aDanish Institute of Clinical Epidemiology, Svanemøllevej 25, 2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark, bCopenhagen County Centre of Preventive Medicine, Denmark
  1. Dr M Osler


STUDY OBJECTIVE The decline in cardiovascular mortality in Denmark during the 1980s has been greatest in the highest socioeconomic groups of the population. This study examines whether the increased social inequality in cardiovascular mortality has been accompanied by a different trend in cardiovascular risk factors in different educational groups.

DESIGN Data from three cross sectional WHO MONICA surveys conducted in 1982–84, 1987, and 1991–92, were analysed to estimate trends in biological (weight, height, body mass index, blood pressure, and serum lipids) and behavioural (smoking, physical activity during leisure, and eating habits) risk factors in relation to educational status.

SETTING County of Copenhagen, Denmark.

PARTICIPANTS 6695 Danish men and women of ages 30, 40, 50, and 60 years.

MAIN RESULTS The prevalence of smoking and heavy smoking decreased during the study but only in the most educated groups. In fact, the prevalence of heavy smoking increased in the least educated women. There was no significant interaction for the remaining biological and behavioural risk factors between time of examination and educational level, indicating that the trend was the same in the different educational groups. However, a summary index based on seven cardiovascular risk factors improved, and this development was only seen in the most educated men and women.

CONCLUSION The difference between educational groups in prevalence of smoking increased during the 1980s, and this accounted for widening of an existing social difference in the total cardiovascular risk.

  • cardiovascular risk factors
  • socioeconomic status
  • time trends

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  • Funding: this study received grants from the Danish Heart Foundation.

  • Conflicts of interest: none.