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The objective of this study is to examine the potential cardiovascular risk of climate-related declines in seafood consumption among First Nations in British Columbia by assessing the combined effects of reduced omega-3 fatty acids and mercury intake from seafood on the risk of myocardial infarction (MI) in 2050 relative to 2009. The data were derived from the First Nations Food, Nutrition, and Environment Study. Seafood consumption among 369 randomly selected participants was estimated, and hair mercury concentrations were measured. Declines in seafood consumption were modelled based on previously projected climate change scenarios, and the associated changes in nutrients and contaminants were used to estimate the cardiovascular risk. Reduced seafood consumption was projected to increase the risk of MI by 4.5%–6.5% among older individuals (≥50 years), by 1.9%–2.6% in men, and by 1.3%–1.8% in women under lower and upper climate change scenarios, respectively. Reduced seafood consumption may have profound cardiovascular implications. Effective strategies are needed to promote sustainable seafood harvests and access to seafood for coastal First Nations.


First Nations people experience significant socio-economic and health disparities compared with non-Indigenous populations in Canada (Reading and Wein 2009). They continue to face serious health challenges, including shorter life expectancy, high rates of mortality, and chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems (Reading and Wein 2009FNIGC 2012Tjepkema et al. 2012Young 2012Bruce et al. 2014). Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are conditions that describe diseases of the heart and/or blood vessels, including ischemic heart diseases (IHD), cerebrovascular disease (stroke), heart failure, congenital heart disease, inflammatory, rheumatic, and hypertensive heart diseases (WHO/WHF/WSO 2011). Overweight and obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and eating a diet high in saturated fat, sodium, and sugar are well-known risk factors for CVD (Cannon 2007).

Among First Nations, CVD remains the second leading cause of death (FNHA 2012Health Canada 2014Reading 2015). Historically, the mortality from CVD in First Nations was lower than that among the general Canadian population (Young 2012). Studies conducted in recent decades, however, have demonstrated that heart diseases in First Nations have increased compared with the general Canadian population (RHS 1999). The First Nations Regional Health Survey (RHS) (2002/03) found that the overall prevalence of self-reported heart disease was slightly higher in First Nations than in non-Indigenous people in Canada (7.6% vs. 5.6%) whereas, among older individuals (50–59 years), the rate of heart disease was more than two times higher than in the general Canadian population (11.5% vs. 5.5%) (FNC 2005).

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