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1.  Trends in cardiovascular disease biomarkers and their socioeconomic patterning among adults in the Scottish population 1995 to 2009: cross-sectional surveys 
BMJ Open  2012;2(3):e000771.
Objectives
To examine secular and socioeconomic changes in biological cardiovascular disease risk factor and biomarker prevalences in the Scottish population. This could contribute to an understanding of why the decline in coronary heart disease mortality in Scotland has recently stalled along with persistence of associated socioeconomic inequalities.
Design
Cross-sectional surveys.
Setting
Scotland.
Participants
Scottish Health Surveys: 1995, 1998, 2003, 2008 and 2009 (6190, 6656, 5497, 4202 and 4964 respondents, respectively, aged 25–64 years).
Primary outcome measures
Gender-stratified, age-standardised prevalences of obesity, hypertension, hypercholesterolaemia and low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol blood concentration as well as elevated fibrinogen and C reactive protein concentrations according to education and social class groupings. Inequalities were assessed using the slope index of inequality, and time trends were assessed using linear regression.
Results
The prevalence of obesity, including central obesity, increased between 1995 and 2009 among men and women, irrespective of socioeconomic position. In 2009, the prevalence of obesity (defined by body mass index) was 29.8% (95% CI 27.9% to 31.7%) for men and 28.2% (26.3% to 30.2%) for women. The proportion of individuals with hypertension remained relatively unchanged between 1995 and 2008/2009, while the prevalence of hypercholesterolaemia declined in men from 79.6% (78.1% to 81.1%) to 63.8% (59.9% to 67.8%) and in women from 74.1% (72.6% to 75.7%) to 66.3% (62.6% to 70.0%). Socioeconomic inequalities persisted over time among men and women for most of the biomarkers and were particularly striking for the anthropometric measures when stratified by education.
Conclusions
If there are to be further declines in coronary heart disease mortality and reduction in associated inequalities, then there needs to be a favourable step change in the prevalence of cardiovascular disease risk factors. This may require radical population-wide interventions.
Article summary
Article focus
In Scotland, as in other developed countries, coronary heart disease mortality has substantially declined over time.
This decline may have slowed among younger ages and there are still large socioeconomic inequalities in mortality.
Examination of the secular and socioeconomic changes in biological cardiovascular disease risk factor and biomarker prevalences in the Scottish population.
Key messages
In Scotland, over a 14-year period since 1995, there has been a substantial increase in the prevalence of obesity with a persistence of large inequalities.
At the same time, the prevalence of hypertension has changed little, while that of hypercholesterolaemia has declined, albeit from a very high level. Inequalities were generally smaller and, in the case of cholesterol in men, ill defined.
Such trends can only serve to curb any further declines in coronary heart disease mortality and maintain associated inequalities.
Strengths and limitations of this study
This study utilised data from nationally representative surveys conducted over a 14-year period.
Bias may have been introduced by declining survey response levels. Differential non-response by the socioeconomically disadvantaged may lead to an underestimation of the magnitude of inequalities.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000771
PMCID: PMC3364451  PMID: 22619264
2.  Trends in adult cardiovascular disease risk factors and their socio-economic patterning in the Scottish population 1995–2008: cross-sectional surveys 
BMJ Open  2011;1(1):e000176.
Objectives
To examine secular and socio-economic changes in cardiovascular disease risk factor prevalences in the Scottish population. This could contribute to a better understanding of why the decline in coronary heart disease mortality in Scotland has recently stalled along with a widening of socio-economic inequalities.
Design
Four Scottish Health Surveys 1995, 1998, 2003 and 2008 (6190, 6656, 5497 and 4202 respondents, respectively, aged 25–64 years) were used to examine gender-stratified, age-standardised prevalences of smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity, fruit and vegetable consumption, discretionary salt use and self-reported diabetes or hypertension. Prevalences were determined according to education and social class. Inequalities were assessed using the slope index of inequality, and time trends were determined using linear regression.
Results
There were moderate secular declines in the prevalence of smoking, excess alcohol consumption and physical inactivity. Smoking prevalence declined between 1995 and 2008 from 33.4% (95% CI 31.8% to 35.0%) to 29.9% (27.9% to 31.8%) for men and from 36.1% (34.5% to 37.8%) to 27.4% (25.5% to 29.3%) for women. Adverse trends in prevalence were noted for self-reported diabetes and hypertension. Over the four surveys, the diabetes prevalence increased from 1.9% (1.4% to 2.4%) to 3.6% (2.8% to 4.4%) for men and from 1.7% (1.2% to 2.1%) to 3.0% (2.3% to 3.7%) for women. Socio-economic inequalities were evident for almost all risk factors, irrespective of the measure used. These social gradients appeared to be maintained over the four surveys. An exception was self-reported diabetes where, although inequalities were small, the gradient increased over time. Alcohol consumption was unique in consistently showing an inverse gradient, especially for women.
Conclusions
There has been only a moderate decline in behavioural cardiovascular risk factor prevalences since 1995, with increases in self-reported diabetes and hypertension. Adverse socio-economic gradients have remained unchanged. These findings could help explain the recent stagnation in coronary heart disease mortalities and persistence of related inequalities.
Article summary
Article focus
In Scotland, as in other developed countries, coronary heart disease mortality has declined substantially over time.
This decline may now be slowing among younger groups, and there are still large inequalities in mortality between socio-economic groups.
This study examined secular and socio-economic changes in cardiovascular disease risk factor prevalences in the Scottish population.
Key messages
In Scotland, over a 13-year period since 1995 there have been at best only moderate declines in the prevalence of behavioural risk factors and no change in their socio-economic patterning, notably for smoking and poor diet.
There has, however, been an increase in self-reported conditions predisposing to cardiovascular disease.
This threatens to maintain inequalities in coronary heart disease mortalities and stifle further declines in mortality.
Strengths and limitations of this study
This study utilised data from nationally representative surveys conducted over a 13-year period.
The declining response levels to these surveys are of concern, possibly introducing bias. However, differential non-response by the socio-economically disadvantaged may lead to an underestimation of the magnitude of inequalities.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000176
PMCID: PMC3191578  PMID: 22021783
Cardiovascular diseases; risk factors; socio-economic factors; cross-sectional studies; Scotland; epidemiology; public health; social medicine; coronary heart disease; multilevel modelling; inequalities; modelling; prevention; health services research; mortality; routine data; statistics

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