Global coronary risk in northern and southern Europe

Large differences in global CHD risk within Europe

A re-analysis of the 10-year follow-up data of the SCS published in 2000 showed large differences between northern and southern Europe in the number of hard CHD events at the same level of the major risk factors serum cholesterol, blood pressure and smoking. The number of hard CHD events was 3 times higher in northern Europe compared to southern Europe. In the early 1970s Ancel Keys and colleagues published the finding that at the same level of the major risk factors the number of hard CHD events after 5 years of follow-up was twice as great in the US railroad cohort as in the European cohorts.

Implications of differences in global risk for prevention and treatment

Risk chart for the prediction of CHD events

It took decades of observational epidemiology and clinical trials before the importance of the global CHD risk concept was accepted by the medical profession. If the level of absolute risk is crucial for taking action, an integrated approach is needed to lower global risk in both cardiac patients and in high-risk persons. The country differences in absolute risk indicate that greater intensity of  interventions is required in regions such as northern Europe.