Age trends in prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors in Roma minority population of Croatia.
ABSTRACT The Roma (Gypsy) are the largest European minority population characterized by poverty, social exclusion as well as by numerous life-style and cultural specificities, which all could have an adverse impact on their cardiovascular health. This study assesses the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) risk factors in community-based sample of 430 adult Roma, living in rural area of Croatia, by providing the actual and age-adjusted estimates using the European standard population. The most prominent classical CVD risk phenotypes (blood pressure, obesity, smoking, glucose and lipid profile) were selected, and the standard risk cut-offs were applied. The study has shown that compared to general population of Croatia, the Roma population bears a high CVD risk factors load related to smoking and high glucose level. The CVD risk factors prevalence in Roma also showed important sex and age patterns, the most imposing of which are the findings of higher prevalence of CVD risks in women (especially obesity and triglyceride levels) and the trend of higher body mass index (BMI) level in younger age group (18-34 years) which both stand in contrast to the trends characterizing the general population of Croatia. These findings are complemented by the trend of decreased risk in the oldest age group (65+ years) for all investigated CVD risk factors (with exception of triglycerides level) compared to the 50-64 age group. We conclude that the age and sex CVD risks pattern point to the health transition of this rural Roma population. As we expect the proportion of CVD in the Roma minority of Croatia to increase in the future along with further modernization of their lifestyle, the CVD prevention measures in this population are urgent and should be primarily targeted at women and at the younger segment of this population.