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About the Icelandic Heart Association

HJARTAVERND-The Icelandic Heart Association (IHA)


The Icelandic Heart Association (IHA) is a non profit academic institute and was founded 1964 around an initiative to battle increasing cardiovascular death in Iceland.


  • Inform and educate the public about heart diseases, appropriate response to their occurance, their aftermath and their prevention.
  • Promote studies and reasearch of heart diseases in Iceland, risk factors and preventive methods.

IHA offer screening for known risk factors for cardiovascular disease both for individuals and companies.


In 1967 the IHA opened a clinic for cardiovascular disease evaluation and initiated a population based study of all individuals in the greater Reykjavik area who were born between 1907 and 1935, altogether more than 30,000 men and women.  These individuals have been examined from once up to six times over the last 35 years.

This study, The Reykjavik Study, has identified a number of risk factors for cardiovascular disease which have been used in a systematic way by the Icelandic Health Authorities and the IHA to lay down the lines for cardiovascular disease prevention based on the characteristics of the Icelandic people themselves.

The IHA has published a number of booklets throughout the years, some in collaboration with other disease prevention groups. In recent years a series of booklets have been published for the general public about risk factors for cardiovascular disease based on the results from the Reykjavik Study.

Booklets already published in this series are:
SMOKING, a serious matter
CHOLESTEROL, Do you know your cholesterol?
OBESITY, Do take it seriously
STROKE, Hypertension....what to do
MYOCARDIAL INFARCT...first reaction does really matter
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY....for your heart

From the very beginning, IHA has published a magazine: HJARTAVERND which is a magazine for the public and health professionals alike.

The IHA has now embarked on a new phase of the Reykjavik Study.  In addition to cardiovascular disease the aim is to study all body systems to study healthy aging.  This study, the AGES study (Age, Gene, Environmet, Susceptibility)  is a collaboration between IHA and the National Institute on Aging in USA and is funded by the National Institutes of Health in the USA and Icelandic Health Authorities.  This 7 year long program is one of the most detailed and extensive study on aging ever carried out. 
For this purpose IHA has built a new research institute for the Heart Preventive Clinic at Holtasmári 1, Kópavogur.

www.hjarta.is: New website was created in September 2003. Our Health Minister, opened it and tried our new risk assessment calculator which is based on results from The Reykjavik Study. This risk assessment calculator gives the opportunity to calculate the likelihood of having a coronary event (MI-CABG-PTCA) in the next 10 years.

English Summary from the Annual report 2003
Last year was the 36th operational year of the Icelandic Heart Association´s Heart Preventive Clinic and Research Institute.  The year was characterized by the smoothening of the AGES –Reykjavík Study protocols and initial problems were overcome.  All together 1.718 individuals attended the AGES – Reykjavík study, 999 women and 719 men, a total of 2.499 participants examined from the beginning of the AGES- Reykjavík  study. Approximately 70% of those invited to the AGES - Reykjavík  study have participated and most of them finished all three visits of the study.  Home visits were started in the year for those who could not attend the clinic and 78 visits were made in the year.  The total number of individuals undergoing risk factor evaluation, at their own cost, was 1.849.  In addition 6.031 participated in other studies but altogether 9.598 individuals visited the Institute which is a considerable increase from the previous year when we moved to our new facilities.  A collaboration with the Icelandic drug study company Encode was initiated in the year on performing drug trials which is a novelty in the curriculum of the Icelandic Heart Association´s Heart Preventive Clinic and Research Institute.  The total number of chemical measurements on the participants carried out at the Icelandic Heart Association’s (IHA) chemical pathology laboratory was 81.804 last year.  An application to the Ministry of Health and Social Security for running an Icelandic Heart Association Studies Biobank was filed.  The license has been granted.

There was a considerable increase in activities in connection with the AGES – Reykjavík study, and 4 new research agreements were finalized with the U.S.National Institute on Aging and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.  In conjunction with these new research agreements a supercomputer was acquired for processing of brain images and other data as well as facilities for cell work.

There was an increase of 15 employees from the previous year rendering a total number of 85 employees working at the IHA  Heart Preventive Clinic and Research Institute at the end of the year 2003 in just over 60 full time positions in addition to employees in other collaborative projects and subcontractors.  Hjördis Kröyer the managing director left after 25 years service and was specifically honoured for her contribution to the Icelandic Heart Association.  Margret Arnardottir the business manager also left the organization.

The research has been successful and a number of scientific peer reviewed articles published based on research projects within the Icelandic Heart Associations as well as with collaborators outside the organization.  It is also evident that the Heart Association´s Heart Preventive Clinic and Research Institute is financially self sufficient.

The thirty sixth operating year of the Icelandic Heart Association´s Heart Preventive Clinic and Research Institute has thus been successful in its activities with increased variety and important achievements.