In reply: We agree with Kinlay that it is important to prevent risk factors at the population level (a population strategy). However, there is also a need to properly identify high-risk individuals who require immediate medical intervention (a high-risk strategy) and to understand the full spectrum of factors that determine such risk.
The primary focus of our study was to assess whether the widely used Framingham risk functions were applicable to Aboriginal people in remote communities. Our data show that the Framingham functions significantly underestimated the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). 1 The high CHD risk in Aboriginal people cannot be fully explained by traditional risk factors. Some major risk factors such as abnormal total cholesterol level and obesity in the study population are actually not as prevalent as those in the general Australian population. 2 Evaluation of traditional risk factors and identification of novel factors in this population are useful for the development of intervention strat-egies. Novel factors such as infection, inflammation, albuminuria and low birthweight have been suggested as predictors of CHD risk in this population. 3,4
Kinlay suggests that Framingham functions should be used to predict CHD risk in Aboriginal people. We disagree. Guidelines for the management of Aboriginal people need to recognise the serious underestimation of risk that the Framingham formulas provide.
We agree that some high-risk groups, such as patients with established CHD, do not need additional risk estimates. With our current knowledge, however, we can not say whether the whole Aboriginal community should be treated as a very high-risk population.
- 1. Wang Z, Hoy WE. Is the Framingham coronary heart disease absolute risk function applicable to Aboriginal people? Med J Aust 2005; 182: 66-69. <MJA full text>
- 2. Wang Z, Hoy W. Hypertension, dyslipidaemia, body mass index, diabetes and smoking status in Aboriginal Australians in a remote community. Ethn Dis 2003; 13: 324-330.
- 3. McDonald S, Maguire G, Duarte N, et al. C-reactive protein, cardiovascular risk, and renal disease in a remote Australian Aboriginal community. Clin Sci 2004; 106: 121-128.
- 4. Wang Z, Hoy W. Albuminuria and incident coronary heart disease in Australian Aboriginal people. Kidney Int 2005. In press.