Background and Aims:
Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) patterns vary over time and between countries, related to lifestyle risk factors across the lifecourse, associated in turn with underlying socio-economic circumstances. Current global epidemics in developing economies are similar in scale to those observed much earlier in the United States and Australia. We examined whether the immigration pattern in Australia was a proxy for epidemiological transition, related to later patterns of CVD.
We examined the foreign-born from Census data as a % of the total Australian population using time-lagged correlations related to age-standardised mortality due to all diseases of the circulatory system, obtained from the General Record of Incidence of Mortality books (2016). The best fit lag was estimated by maximising the square of the Pearson correlation coefficient (r2).
There was a significant positive association (p=0.038) between the fall in Mortality since approximately 1970, and the % of the population foreign born 58 years earlier. This association could be ascribed to the fall in immigration from the United Kingdom and Ireland in the first half of the 20th century, from 26% in 1891 to 7% in 1947, correlating with a drop in mortality rate of 0.009 per annum in 1949 to 0.003 in 2005.
An association with immigration from predominantly United Kingdom and Ireland is confirmed, which changes as the population stabilises economically and newer waves of immigration from lower risk Mediterranean countries occur. This is in keeping with the Barker hypothesis that early life disadvantage and later life lifestyle affluence drive CVD patterns.