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High rates of ischaemic heart disease in Scotland are not explained by conventional risk factors


Study objectives: To (1) compare prevalence of socioeconomic, behavioural, and physiological ischaemic heart disease (IHD) risk factors in Scotland with a comparable nation (England) and (2) find out if their distribution explains Scotland’s comparatively higher IHD rate (1.62 (1.30, 2.02)).

Design, setting, and participants: Cross sectional, individual level observational study with data on socioeconomic, behavioural, and physiological characteristics, 6064 respondents from Scotland and England, (2362 and 3702 respectively), aged 45–74 and with data on all required items.

Main results: There were significant and meaningful differences between the Scottish and English in the prevalence of several IHD risk factors. However, a substantially and significantly higher risk of IHD persisted among the Scottish respondents (1.50 (1.17, 1.91)) despite control for a wide range of risk factors.

Conclusions: Interpretation must be cautious because these are cross sectional data, however higher levels of conventional IHD risk factors contribute to but do not explain the comparatively high rates of IHD in Scotland. Alternative explanations for, and policy interventions to tackle, Scottish rates of IHD must be considered.

  • IHD, ischaemic heart disease
  • GHQ, general health questionnaire
  • heart disease
  • inequalities
  • Scotland
  • risk

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