© London Transport Museum
(4) By comparing bus drivers with their more active counterparts, bus conductors, epidemiology first identified lack of exercise as an important factor in heart disease.
The message soon spread to the North Kariela region of Finland where, in 1971, the death rate from coronary disease was the highest in the world. The people set up a community action program with everyone advised to stop smoking, eat less fat and more vegetables, avoid obesity and have their blood pressure checked. By 1979, death rates had fallen by 24% in men and 51% in women.29
(2) Epidemiological studies have shown that communities such as the Alaskan eskimos, who consume very little salt. do not suffer from high blood pressure. Substantial reductions in salt consumption would cut Western stroke and heart disease deaths by 39% and 30% respectively.
The Framingham project stimulated further epidemiological research11 and, in all, over 20 population studies in 14 countries have confirmed the link between heart disease and high blood pressure, smoking and levels of cholesterol in the blood.29 The recent Chinese study of diet and disease found that, as a result of the largely vegetarian, almost vegan diet in rural China, cholesterol levels are by Western standards extremely low, with heart disease rarely recorded as a cause of death. According to Richard Peto, a co- author of the study,3 “The Chinese experience shows us that most of Western coronary heart disease is unnecessary.”
Today the Framingham project is devoted to stroke and ageing, together with follow-up studies of children of the original participants.11
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