BMC public health 2017 02 0117(1) 147 doi 10.1186/s12889-017-4053-x
There are about 70 small islands in the Aegean and Ionian Sea, of less than 300 Km(2) and 5000 inhabitants each, comprising a total population of more than 75,000 individuals with geographical and socioeconomic characteristics of special interest. The objective of the present study was to assess lifestyle characteristics and the state of cardiovascular risk of the population of a small Eastern Mediterranean island, Elafonisos.
PERSEAS (Prospective Evaluation of cardiovascular Risk Surrogates in Elafonisos Area Study) is an ongoing, population-based, longitudinal survey of cardiovascular risk factors, life-style characteristics and related morbidity/mortality performed in a small and relatively isolated island of the Aegean Sea, named Elafonisos. Validated, closed-ended questionnaires for demographic, socio-economic, clinical and lifestyle characteristics were distributed and analyzed. The MedDietScore, a validated Mediterranean diet score was also calculated. In addition, all participants underwent measurement of anthropometric parameters, blood pressure and a full blood panel for glucose and lipids.
The analysis included 596 individuals who represented 74.5% of the target population. The mean age of the population was 49.5 ± 19.6 years and 48.2% were males. Fifty participants (8.4%) had a history of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The rates of reported diabetes, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia were 7.7%, 30.9% and 30.9% respectively, with screen-detection of each condition accounting for an additional 4.0%, 12.9%, and 23.3% of cases, respectively. Four hundred and seven individuals (68.3%) were overweight or obese, 25% reported being physically inactive and 36.6% were active smokers. The median MedDietScore was 25 [interquartile range: 6, range 12-47] with higher values significantly associated with older age, better education, increased physical activity, absence of history of diabetes and known history of hypercholesterolemia.
Obesity and traditional risk factors for CVD are highly prevalent among the inhabitants of a small Mediterranean island. Adherence to the traditional Mediterranean diet in this population is moderate, while physical activity is low. There seems to be a need for lifestyle modification programs in order to reverse the increasing cardiovascular risk trends in rural isolated areas of the Mediterranean basin.