BMJ Open 3:e002308 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-002308
  • Epidemiology
    • Research

Lifetime risk of developing coronary heart disease in Aboriginal Australians: a cohort study

  1. Wendy E Hoy
  1. Centre for Chronic Disease, School of Medicine, University of Queensland, Herston, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Zhiqiang Wang;{at}
  • Received 6 November 2012
  • Revised 27 December 2012
  • Accepted 10 January 2013
  • Published 30 January 2013


Objectives Lifetime risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) is an important yardstick by which policy makers, clinicians and the general public can assess and promote the awareness and prevention of CHD. The lifetime risk in Aboriginal people is not known. Using a cohort with up to 20 years of follow-up, we estimated the lifetime risk of CHD in Aboriginal people.

Design A cohort study.

Setting A remote Aboriginal region.

Participants 1115 Aboriginal people from one remote tribal group who were free from CHD at baseline were followed for up to 20 years.

Main outcome measures During the follow-up period, new CHD incident cases were identified through hospital and death records. We estimated the lifetime risks of CHD with and without adjusting for the presence of competing risk of death from non-CHD causes.

Results Participants were followed up for 17 126 person-years, during which 185 developed CHD and 144 died from non-CHD causes. The average age at which the first CHD event occurred was 48 years for men and 49 years for women. The risk of developing CHD increased with age until 60 years and then decreased with age. Lifetime cumulative risk without adjusting for competing risk was 70.7% for men and 63.8% for women. Adjusting for the presence of competing risk of death from non-CHD causes, the lifetime risk of CHD was 52.6% for men and 49.2% for women.

Conclusions Lifetime risk of CHD is as high as one in two in both Aboriginal men and women. The average age of having first CHD events was under 50 years, much younger than that reported in non-Aboriginal populations. Our data provide useful knowledge for health education, screening and prevention of CHD in Aboriginal people.

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