Objective: To explore the importance of early life factors shared by siblings, such as parental socioeconomic position, parental practices, housing and neighbourhood, for the association between cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors and mortality from CVD, ischaemic heart disease (IHD) and cerebrovascular disease.
Methods: Norwegian health surveys (1974–2003) were linked with data from the Norwegian Family Based Life Course Study and the Cause of Death Registry. Participants with at least one full sibling among survey participants (n=2 71 643) were included. Data on CVD risk factors, body mass index (BMI), height, systolic blood pressure (SBP) and total cholesterol (TC) were stratified into ‘low’, ‘medium’ and ‘high’ risk, and smoking to ‘daily smoking’ and ‘not daily smoking’.
Results: Mean age of participants was 41 years, mean follow-up time was 19 years and during follow-up 2512 died from CVD. For each category of increased risk factor level, the per step HR of CVD mortality was increased by 1.91 (95% CI 1.78 to 2.05) for SBP, 1.67 (1.58 to 1.76) for TC, 1.44 (1.36 to 1.53) for BMI, 1.26 (1.18 to 1.35) for height and 2.89 (2.66 to 3.14) for smoking. In analyses where each sibship (groups of full siblings) had a group-specific baseline hazard, these associations were attenuated to 1.74, 1.51, 1.29, 1.18 and 2.63, respectively. The associations between risk factors and IHD mortality followed the same pattern.
Conclusion: Early life family factors explained a small part of the association between risk factors and mortality from CVD and IHD in a relatively young sample.
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