Background: Ischaemic heart disease (IHD) is one of the leading causes of death worldwide with a higher risk of dying among people with a lower socioeconomic status. We investigated the potential for reducing educational differences in IHD mortality in 21 European populations based on two counterfactual scenarios-the upward levelling scenario and the more realistic best practice country scenario. Methods: We used a method based on the population attributable fraction to estimate the impact of a modified educational distribution of smoking, overweight/obesity, and physical inactivity on educational inequalities in IHD mortality among people aged 30-79. Risk factor prevalence was collected around the year 2000 and mortality data covered the early 2000s. Results: The potential reduction of educational inequalities in IHD mortality differed by country, sex, risk factor and scenario. Smoking was the most important risk factor among men in Nordic and eastern European populations, whereas overweight and obesity was the most important risk factor among women in the South of Europe. The effect of physical inactivity on the reduction of inequalities in IHD mortality was smaller compared with smoking and overweight/obesity. Although the reduction in inequalities in IHD mortality may seem modest, substantial reduction in IHD mortality among the least educated can be achieved under the scenarios investigated. Conclusion: Population wide strategies to reduce the prevalence of risk factors such as smoking, and overweight/obesity targeted at the lower socioeconomic groups are likely to substantially contribute to the reduction of IHD mortality and inequalities in IHD mortality in Europe.

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Journal European Journal of Public Health
Kulhánová, I, Menvielle, G, Hoffmann, R, Eikemo, T.A, Kulik, M.C, Toch-Marquardt, M, … Tekkel, M. (2017). The role of three lifestyle risk factors in reducing educational differences in ischaemic heart disease mortality in Europe. European Journal of Public Health, 27(2), 203–210. doi:10.1093/eurpub/ckw104