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Potential Errors Resulting from Sex and Age Difference in Assessing Family History of Coronary Heart Disease

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Coronary heart disease occurs nearly exponentially with age and differently between men and women. Therefore, difference in sex and age of family members yields errors in assessing the family history as a risk factor. The influence of sex and age on the positivity of family history was assessed numerically.<br>METHODS: Through questionnaires filled in by the parents of 2316 high school students, information was obtained on the past history of coronary heart disease among students' parents, grandparents, uncles, and aunts. The sex- and age-specific proportion of a positive history was calculated from the past history among the 24, 071 family members. The influence of sex and age on a positive history was estimated as odds ratios by logistic regression analysis of the past history.<br>RESULTS: The odds ratios obtained for sex and age difference were 1.61 (95% confidence interval: 1.42-1.83) and 1.07 (95% confidence interval: 1.06-1.07), respectively. This indicated that a positive history was 1.61 times higher among male members than among female members of the same age, and that a positive history increased by (1.07)y, where y was age difference by year.<br>CONCLUSIONS: Potential errors resulting from disregarding the sex and age of family members can be substantial, judging from the above numerical figures. Some measures to control for the sex and age of family members are required in assessing family history of coronary heart disease.

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