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PhD project: Low incidence of cardiovascular disease in Greenland – myth or fact?

Earlier it has been a common assumption that the incidence of cardiovascular disease in Greenland was low and that a high intake of n-3 fatty acids through the traditional diet protected Greenlanders against cardiovascular disease. However, these assumptions are not based on scientific research, and valid figures of the incidence of cardiovascular disease do not exist. Since the 1950's, the significant westernization of the Greenlandic society has had a fundamental impact on the disease pattern. Less people consume the traditional diet, comprising a high amount of marine mammals, and the level of physical activity has decreased. The Greenlandic population is getting older and the proportion of smokers has slightly fallen from 78-66% from 1993 to 2010. However, the incidence of overweight and diabetes has increased considerably. Furthermore, we recently identified a frequent genetic high-risk variant for diabetes occurring in 17% of the population.


As a follow-up of two previous population surveys, a clinical study of approximately 4,000 Greenlandic adults as well as a systematic review of patient records and disease registers will be conducted. The present project is a PhD study comprising 3 sub-studies: 1) validation of the Greenlandic Patient Register for cardiovascular disease diagnosis and establishment of a cardiac registry, 2) study of the incidence of cardiovascular disease in Greenland from 1987-2013 using Greenland’s national patient records, and 3) highlighting the risk of cardiovascular disease among Greenlanders with diabetes - including the importance of the newly identified genetic high risk variant for diabetes in Greenland - using clinical surveys from the Population Survey in Greenland.

Project period

The project takes place in the period from 2014 to 2018.


Funding has been obtained from the Heart Association and FSS.

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Last Updated 19.03.2019