Cardiovascular disease risk factors in homeless people

  • Margit Kaldmäe Tallinn University, Institute of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Tallinn, Estonia
  • Mihkel Zilmer Tartu University, Department of Biochemistry, Tartu, Estonia
  • Margus Viigimaa North Estonia Regional Hospital, Tallinn, Estonia
  • Galina Zemtsovskaja North Estonia Regional Hospital, Tallinn, Estonia
  • Karel Tomberg North Estonia Regional Hospital, Tallinn, Estonia
  • Tanel Kaart Estonian University of Life Sciences, Institute of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Sciences, Tartu, Estonia
  • Margus Annuk Egeen International Corporation, Mountain View, USA
Keywords: Atherosclerosis, cardiac diseases, inflammation, pathology


Background. Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are associated with significant morbidity and mortality, which is highest in Eastern Europe including Estonia. Accumulating evidence suggests that life-style is associated with the development of CVD. The aim of this study was to evaluate the informative power of common CVD-related markers under unhealthy conditions.

Subjects. Subjects (n = 51; mean age 45 years; 90% men) were recruited from a shelter for homeless people in Tallinn, Estonia, and consisted of persons who constantly used alcohol or surrogates, smoked, and were in a bad physical condition (amputated toes, necrotic ulcers, etc.).

Methods. Blood pressure, pulse rate, and waist circumference were measured, and body mass index (BMI) was calculated. The following markers were measured in blood serum: total cholesterol (TChol), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-Chol), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-Chol), plasma triglycerides (TG), apolipoproteins A-l (ApoA1) and B (ApoB), lipoprotein(a) (Lp(a)), glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), glucose (Gluc), high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), serum carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT), gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), and aspartate aminotransferase (AST). Except smoking, the anamnestic information considering eating habits, declared alcohol consumption and medication intake were not included in the analysis due to the low credibility of self-reported data.

Results. More than half of the investigated patients had values of measured markers (hsCRP, TChol, LDL-Chol, TG, HbA1c, ApoA1, ApoB, Lp(a), Gluc) within normal range. Surprisingly, 100% of subjects had HDL-Chol within endemic norm.

Conclusion. This study demonstrates that traditional markers, commonly used for prediction and diagnosis and treatment of CVD, are not always applicable to homeless people, apparently due to their aberrant life-style.


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How to Cite
Kaldmäe M., Zilmer M., Viigimaa M., Zemtsovskaja G., Tomberg K., Kaart T., & Annuk M. (2011). Cardiovascular disease risk factors in homeless people. Upsala Journal of Medical Sciences, 116(3), 200–207.
Original Articles