Lipid Metabolism and Ischemic Heart Disease in Greenland Eskimos

  • Hans Olaf Bang
  • Jørn Dyerberg


Ischemic heart disease is very uncommon in Greenland Eskimos (Harvald, 1974). In his extensive nosography of Greenland, Berthelsen (1940) does not even mention this disease, although he gives some information on atherosclerosis in Greenlanders. Other thrombotic diseases, in both the arterial and the venous systems, are mentioned either very infrequently by him or not at all. In the annual report on the state of health in Greenland (Bøggild et al., 1978) covering the years 1973–1976, death from ischemic heart diseases constitutes an average of 3.5% of all causes of death. In this and in other official medical statistics, no distinction is made between true Greenlanders and Danish workers who spend various amounts of time in Greenland, but who almost invariably carry their Western way of life with them. However, this fraction of the total population of nearly 50,000 inhabitants on this huge island of 2,175,000 km2 is small. Life expectancy rapidly increased in the more than 60 years since tuberculosis was successfully defeated. The most common cause of death is still accidents, amounting to about one-third of all deaths. The same statistical source reports an annual average of 9 1/2 cases of myocardial infarction among hospitalized patients in Greenland. The majority of these, as well as of the deaths reportedly caused by ischemic heart diseases, is from the southern and most “Westernized” part of Greenland, whereas from 1968 to 1978, not a single death from ischemic heart disease or case of myocardial infarction was reported from the UmanaK district (population of about 2600) where the present investigations were carried out.


Ischemic Heart Disease Eicosapentaenoic Acid Bleeding Time Activate Partial Thromboplastin Time Fatty Acid Pattern 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans Olaf Bang
    • 1
  • Jørn Dyerberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Clinical ChemistryAalborg HospitalAalborgDenmark

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