Open Access Research article

Risk of ischaemic heart disease and acute myocardial infarction in a Spanish population: observational prospective study in a primary-care setting

Alejandro Marín1, María José Medrano2*, José González3, Héctor Pintado1, Vicente Compaired1, Mario Bárcena4, María Victoria Fustero5, Javier Tisaire6, José M Cucalón5, Aurelio Martín4, Raquel Boix2, Francisco Hernansanz1 and José Bueno7

Author Affiliations

1 Department of General Medicine, San José Norte Health Centre, Zaragoza, Spain

2 National Centre for Epidemiology, Carlos III Institute of Public Health, Madrid, Spain

3 Department of General Medicine, Las Fuentes Norte Health Centre, Zaragoza, Spain

4 Department of General Medicine, Cariñena Health Centre, Zaragoza, Spain

5 Department of General Medicine Illueca Health Centre, Zaragoza, Spain

6 Arterial Hypertension Research Foundation, Zaragoza, Spain

7 Department of Internal Medicine, University Clinical Teaching Hospital, Zaragoza, Spain

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BMC Public Health 2006, 6:38  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-38

Published: 17 February 2006



Ischaemic heart disease is a global priority of health-care policy, because of its social repercussions and its impact on the health-care system. Yet there is little information on coronary morbidity in Spain and on the effect of the principal risk factors on risk of coronary heart disease. The objective of this study is to describe the epidemiology of coronary disease (incidence, mortality and its association with cardiovascular risk factors) using the information gathered by primary care practitioners on cardiovascular health of their population.


A prospective study was designed. Eight primary-care centres participated, each contributing to the constitution of the cohort with the entire population covered by the centre. A total of 6124 men and women aged over 25 years and free of cardiovascular disease agreed to participate and were thus enrolled and followed-up, with all fatal and non-fatal coronary disease episodes being registered during a 5-year period. Repeated measurements were collected on smoking, blood pressure, weight and height, serum total cholesterol, high-density and low-density lipoproteins and fasting glucose. Rates were calculated for acute myocardial infarction and ischaemic heart disease. Associations between cardiovascular risk factors and coronary disease-free survival were evaluated using Kaplan-Meier and Cox regression analyses.


Mean age at recruitment was 51.6 ± 15, with 24% of patients being over 65. At baseline, 74% of patients were overweight, serum cholesterol over 240 was present in 35% of patients, arterial hypertension in 37%, and basal glucose over 126 in 11%. Thirty-four percent of men and 13% of women were current smokers. During follow-up, 155 first episodes of coronary disease were detected, which yielded age-adjusted rates of 362 and 191 per 100,000 person-years in men and women respectively. Disease-free survival was associated with all risk factors in univariate analyses. After multivariate adjustments, age, male gender, smoking, high total cholesterol, high HDL/LDL ratio, diabetes and overweight remained strongly associated with risk. Relative risks for hypertension in women and for diabetes in men did not reach statistical significance.


Despite high prevalence of vascular risk factors, incidence rates were lower than those reported for other countries and other periods, but similar to those reported in the few population-based studies in Spain. Effect measures of vascular risk factors were mainly as reported worldwide and support the hypothesis that protective factors not considered in this study must exist as to explain low rates. This study shows the feasibility of conducting epidemiological cohort studies in primary-care settings.