Geographic Origin as a Determinant of Carotid Artery Intima-Media Thickness and Brachial Artery Flow-Mediated Dilation. The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective - People living in eastern Finland have approximate to 40% higher coronary heart disease mortality rates than western Finns. Whether this is because of genetic or environmental factors is unknown. We examined the effect of geographic family origin on subclinical atherosclerosis among young Finns. Methods and Results - As part of a longitudinal follow-up study, we measured carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) in 2264 and brachial flow-mediated dilation (FMD) in 2109 white adults, aged 24 to 39 years. Subjects from eastern Finland had greater IMT and lower FMD compared with western subjects. These differences accentuated when the subjects' family origin ( grandparents' birthplace) was taken into account and remained significant after adjusting for several environmental factors. Among subjects with all grandparents born in eastern or western Finland, IMTs were ( mean +/- SEM) 0.592 +/- 0.003 versus 0.565 +/- 0.005 mm ( P < 0.0001), respectively. The corresponding FMD values were 7.61 +/- 0.15% versus 8.75 +/- 0.26%; P < 0.01. The number of grandparents born in eastern Finland was directly related to IMT ( P < 0.0001) and inversely to FMD ( P < 0.05). Conclusions - Young adults originating from eastern Finland have greater carotid IMT and lower brachial FMD than western Finns. Consistent with a hereditable component predisposing to or protecting from atherosclerosis, these differences accentuated when subjects' family origin was taken into account.


  • Markus Juonala
  • Jorma S A Viikari
  • Mika Kähönen
  • Leena Taittonen
  • Tapani Rönnemaa
  • Tomi Laitinen
  • Vera Mikkilä
  • Noora Mäki-Torkko
  • Leena Räsänen
  • Hans K Åkerblom
  • Erkki Pesonen
  • Olli T Raitakari
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems


  • flow-mediated dilatation, intima-media thickness, atherosclerosis
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-398
JournalArteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Publication categoryResearch