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June 2019

Am J Epidemiol. 1995 Oct; 142(7): 746-58.

Effect of risk factor values on lifetime risk of and age at first coronary event. The Adventist Health Study.

Fraser GE, Lindsted KD, Beeson WL.

Center for Health Research, Loma Linda University, CA 92350, USA.

The effect of traditional coronary heart disease risk factors on lifetime risk, age at onset, and survival free of coronary disease has not been extensively studied. The authors have used the cohort data from 27,321 California Seventh-day Adventists who had no known heart disease in 1976 to investigate these questions. Multiple decrement life tables incorporating non-parametric estimates of conditional probabilities for both coronary disease and all other competing endpoints were used to estimate these survival outcomes. Variance estimators are provided in an appendix. Persons characterized by being either past smokers, diabetic, hypertensive, physically, non-vegetarian, or infrequent consumers of nuts often showed substantial differences in these survival outcomes. Statistically significant results include earlier age at onset of coronary disease at between 4 and 10 years, reduced life expectancy free of the disease between 5 and 9 years, and increased lifetime risk between 8% and 16%, when comparing groups with and without adverse values for different risk factors. The presence of adverse levels of two risk factors predicted even greater differences in these endpoints. These important effects are easily understood by the layman or non-epidemiologist professional, which is often not true of a relative risk. This should increase the effectiveness of such results when promoting behavioral change.

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