Public Defence: Soheir Hassan Ahmed

MD Soheir Hassan Ahmed at Institute of Health and Society will be defending the thesis “Prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors among Somalis living in Norway and Somaliland” for the degree of PhD (Philosophiae Doctor).

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Trial Lecture – time and place

See Trial Lecture.

Adjudication committee

  • First opponent: Professor Abdullatif Husseini, Birzeit University
  • Second opponent: Senior Researcher Sidsel Graff-Iversen, Norwegian Institute of Public Health
  • Third member and chair of the evaluation committee: Professor Kirsten B. Holven, University of Oslo

Chair of the Defence

Associate Professor Knut Reidar Wangen, University of Oslo

Principal Supervisor

Researcher Ahmed Ali Madar, University of Oslo


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide. CVD can to a large extent be prevented through healthy lifestyles. Generally, information about CVD risk factors in the Somali population both at home and in the diaspora is very limited.

Thus, the overall aim of the thesis was to assess and compare the prevalence of CVD risk factors among Somalis in Norway and Somaliland. The thesis composes of two cross-sectional studies conducted in Hargeisa and Oslo among women and men aged 20-69-years carried-out between 2015 and 2016.

In this comparative study, we found that the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors differed between Somalis who live in Oslo and Hargeisa. On one hand, the prevalence of overweight and obesity was higher among Somalis in Oslo compared to Somalis in Hargeisa, although the prevalence was also rather high among women in Hargeisa. On the other hand, the prevalence of hypertension was twice as high among women from Hargeisa compared to women from Oslo and the prevalence of high cholesterol was higher in Hargeisa than in Oslo in both genders. The prevalence of smoking was 27% among men in Hargeisa and 20% among men in Oslo and negligible among women in both locations. We also found that 98% of Somalis in Hargeisa used palm oil, whereas 77% of Somalis in Oslo used either olive, rapeseed, or sunflower oil in food preparation. In addition, Hargeisa participants had reported low levels of physical activity and low consumption of fruit and vegetables.

In conclusion, in spite of higher overweigh and obesity among Somalis in Oslo, blood lipids tend to be more favourable in Oslo compared to Hargeisa. There were no significant differences in the predicted 10-year CVD risk based on Framingham models in both locations, however, men tended to have a higher predicted 10-year CVD risk score than women. The findings provide information to help in planning and addressing prevention methods towards cardiovascular diseases and their risk factors among Somalis living in Oslo, Norway and Hargeisa, Somaliland.

Additional information

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Published Nov. 25, 2019 3:40 PM - Last modified Nov. 26, 2019 10:24 AM