Why does Russia have such high cardiovascular mortality rates? Comparisons of blood-based biomarkers with Norway implicate non-ischaemic cardiac damage.
Lakunchykova O., Averina M., Wilsgaard T., Watkins H., Malyutina S., Ragino Y., Keogh RH., Kudryavtsev AV., Govorun V., Cook S., Schirmer H., Eggen AE., Hopstock LA., Leon DA.
BACKGROUND: Russia has one of the highest rates of mortality from cardiovascular disease (CVD). At age 35-69 years, they are eight times higher than in neighbouring Norway. Comparing profiles of blood-based CVD biomarkers between these two populations can help identify reasons for this substantial difference in risk. METHODS: We compared age-standardised mean levels of CVD biomarkers for men and women aged 40-69 years measured in two cross-sectional population-based studies: Know Your Heart (KYH) (Russia, 2015-2018; n=4046) and the seventh wave of the Tromsø Study (Tromsø 7) (Norway, 2015-2018; n=17 646). A laboratory calibration study was performed to account for inter-laboratory differences. RESULTS: Levels of total, low-density lipoprotein-, high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol and triglycerides were comparable in KYH and Tromsø 7 studies. N-terminal pro-b-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP), high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T (hs-cTnT) and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) were higher in KYH compared with Tromsø 7 (NT-proBNP was higher by 54.1% (95% CI 41.5% to 67.8%) in men and by 30.8% (95% CI 22.9% to 39.2%) in women; hs-cTnT-by 42.4% (95% CI 36.1% to 49.0%) in men and by 68.1% (95% CI 62.4% to 73.9%) in women; hsCRP-by 33.3% (95% CI 26.1% to 40.8%) in men and by 35.6% (95% CI 29.0% to 42.6%) in women). Exclusion of participants with pre-existing coronary heart disease (279 men and 282 women) had no substantive effect. CONCLUSIONS: Differences in cholesterol fractions cannot explain the difference in CVD mortality rate between Russia and Norway. A non-ischemic pathway to the cardiac damage reflected by raised NT-proBNP and hs-cTnT is likely to contribute to high CVD mortality in Russia.