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Background, Principles, Implementation, and General Experiences of the North Karelia Project

Authors:

Pekka Puska ,

Department of Health, National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Helsinki, FI
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Erkki Vartiainen,

Department of Health, National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Helsinki, FI
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Aulikki Nissinen,

Department of Health, National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Helsinki, FI
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Tiina Laatikainen,

National Institute for Health and Welfare, Chronic Disease Prevention Unit, Helsinki; University of Eastern Finland, Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, Kuopio; Hospital District of North Karelia, Joensuu, FI
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Pekka Jousilahti

Department of Health, National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Helsinki, FI
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Abstract

The extremely high mortality of cardiovascular diseases in the 1960s in Finland, particularly in the Eastern Province of North Karelia and especially that of coronary heart disease in men, caused great concern among the local population. Action to reduce the problem was demanded in a petition signed in 1971 by the representatives of the population. In response, the North Karelia Project was launched in 1972 to carry out a comprehensive preventive project, first only in North Karelia as a national pilot (1972 to 1977), and thereafter continuing in North Karelia but at the same time transferring the experiences to a national level. The intervention was based on the at-that-time relatively new scientific information on the main causal risk factors. A comprehensive population-based intervention was carried out, aiming especially at the reduction of the high levels of serum cholesterol, blood pressure, and tobacco use, emphasizing general dietary changes and smoking reduction. A comprehensive monitoring and evaluation program was designed and implemented to learn from the experience in preparation for national and international use. Presented here are the background, principles, and general experiences of this project, which has made major contributions both to the contemporary public health work for the prevention and control of heart disease and noncommunicable diseases and for research in the area.

Highlights

  • The North Karelia Project was launched in the early 1970s as a response to the high mortality of heart disease that had developed in Finland after World War II.
  • The North Karelia Project developed the pioneering approach of community-based prevention, using the relatively new scientific information on causal risk factors.
  • The continuation was linked with national interventions through broad health promotion and policies.
How to Cite: Puska P, Vartiainen E, Nissinen A, Laatikainen T, Jousilahti P. Background, Principles, Implementation, and General Experiences of the North Karelia Project. Global Heart. 2016;11(2):173–8. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.gheart.2016.04.010
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Published on 01 Jun 2016.
Peer Reviewed

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