September 09, 2009
Big Differences Between European Countries In Heart Risks

The big smoker countries in Europe have much higher rates of heat disease death under age 65.

While heart disease remains the leading cause of death in Europe, mortality rates are falling in most (but not all) countries, according to new findings released by the EuroHeart mapping project.(1) However, this detailed research, part of a three-year programme to analyse cardiovascular health and prevention policies in 16 European countries, also reveals huge inequalities among countries both in the rate of cardiovascular mortality and in national prevention programmes.

  • Highest rates of mortality from coronary heart disease (CHD) in men under 65 were found in Hungary (105 per 100,000 population), Estonia (104), Slovakia (74), Greece (50), Finland (48) and UK (44).
  • Highest rates for women under 65 were found in Hungary (28), Estonia (20), Slovakia (19), UK (11), Greece (10) and Belgium (9).
  • Lowest rates for men under 65 were found in France (17), Netherlands (22), Italy (25) and Norway (27).
  • Lowest rates for women under 65 were found in Iceland (3), France (3), Slovenia (5) and Italy (5).

This pattern was also reflected (though not exactly mirrored) in risk factor prevalence, where, for example, Greece (46%), Estonia (42%), Slovakia (41%), Germany (37%) and Hungary (37%) had the highest rates of cigarette smoking.

Hungary and Estonia have a lot of unhealthy people. The Greeks need to stop smoking themselves to death.

The Finns have made big improvements in lowering coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality. Whereas Greece is losing ground. My guess: part of this is due to fewer Greeks eating the Mediterranean diet.

There are also noticeable differences in trends in CHD mortality; in Finland mortality rates from CHD declined by 76% from 1972 to 2005; in the same period in Greece, mortality rates for CHD increased by 11%. In nine of the 16 EuroHeart countries, the trends in CHD death rates in women show that they have declined less than in men.

Europe is clearly lagging the United States in turning away from the demon weed. Kentucky has the highest incidence of smoking at 28.3% in 2007 with Utah's Mormons living a pure life at only 11.7% but the US Virgin Islands at 8.7% even beat Utah. Good for those Virgin Islanders. The Virgin Islands, center of heart-healthy living. Who knew?

In 2007, the median prevalence of adult current smoking in the 50 states and DC was 19.8%. Among states, current smoking prevalence was highest in Kentucky (28.3%), West Virginia (27.0%), and Oklahoma (25.8%); and lowest in Utah (11.7%), California (14.3%), and Connecticut (15.5%). Smoking prevalence was 8.7% in USVI, 12.2% in PR, and 31.1% in Guam. Median smoking prevalence among the 50 states and DC was 21.3% (range: 15.5%-28.8%) for men and 18.4% (range: 8.0%-27.8%) for women. Men had a significantly higher prevalence of smoking than women in 30 states, DC, and all three territories.

National smoking numbers for the United States show a higher rate for ages 18-24 than for the adult population overall. So then has the decline in smoking bottomed out?

  • An estimated, 20.8% of all adults (45.3 million people) smoke cigarettes in the United States.4
  • Cigarette smoking estimates by age are as follows: 1824 years (23.9%), 2544 years (23.5%), 4564 years (21.8%), and 65 years or older (10.2%).4
  • Cigarette smoking is more common among men (23.9%) than women (18.0%).4
  • Prevalence of cigarette smoking is highest among American Indians/Alaska Natives (32.4%), followed by African Americans (23.0%), whites (21.9%), , Hispanics (15.2%), and Asians [excluding Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders] (10.4%).4
  • Cigarette smoking estimates are highest for adults with a General Education Development (GED) diploma (46.0%) or 911 years of education (35.4%), and lowest for adults with an undergraduate college degree (9.6%) or a graduate college degree (6.6%).4
  • Cigarette smoking is more common among adults who live below the poverty level (30.6%) than among those living at or above the poverty level (20.4%).4

Smokers need another drug that gives them as much nerve calming but without the cardiovascular damage.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 September 09 08:20 PM  Aging Cardiovascular Studies

coldequation said at September 10, 2009 5:43 AM:

The fact that younger people smoke more probably reflects that they haven't gotten around to quitting yet. I'm sure that a lot more 23.9% of the older crowd smoked when they were 18-24.

I would think that the decline in smoking would have to continue. When I was a teenager, we all had jobs and cigarettes were cheap. Now teenagers mostly don't have jobs (employers prefer Mexican adults), and cigarettes are expensive. And the taxes are only going to get higher, not lower. Those GED owners and dropouts who smoke so much are already spending 10% or so of their income on cigarettes. How much more expensive do cigs have to get before they simply can't afford to smoke?

Jerry Martinson said at September 10, 2009 8:58 AM:

Here's some longitudinal data on youth smoking:
It appears that there is a decline among youth so smoking rates will continue to drop as these youths age and begin to quit.

Rich Nicely said at September 10, 2009 10:01 AM:

I think 5-htp might be a supplement that could assist people needing their nerves calmed.

the_alpha_male said at September 10, 2009 10:46 AM:

"Smokers need another drug that gives them as much nerve calming but without the cardiovascular damage."

Isn't nicotine gum safer than smoking?

Xenophon Hendrix said at September 10, 2009 3:22 PM:

Free speculation with no evidence: some of the smoking among young people might be for weight control. Those are the prime mating years.

rob said at September 10, 2009 5:27 PM:

More thorough treatment for mental illness would help. Most schizophrenics smoke, pretty sure depressed and bipolar people smoke at higher rates than the general population.

I'm surprised such a small percent of hispanics smoke. Does the rate go up for 2nd and third generation hispanics?

Alpha male, snus is safer than smoking, and probably safer than classic snuff. It is certainly less obvious than smoking or dipping. I switched to snus for about a year, and then quit it, it much easier than quitting smoking directly. Probably because oral absorption is slower and longer than smoke, making it less addictive.

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