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Int J Epidemiol. 2001 Oct;30 Suppl 1:S17-22.

Coronary heart disease trends in four United States communities. The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study 1987-1996.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, USA.



The objective of this paper is to report trends in mortality due to coronary heart disease (CHD), rates of first and recurrent hospitalized myocardial infarction, and survival after myocardial infarction in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study from 1987 through 1996.


The ARIC study used retrospective community surveillance to monitor admissions to acute care hospitals and deaths due to CHD (both in- and out-of-hospital) among all residents 35-74 years of age. The surveillance areas included over 360 000 men and women in four communities: Forsyth County, North Carolina; the city of Jackson, Mississippi; eight northern suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Washington County, Maryland.


The annual age-adjusted mortality rate of CHD fell 3.2% (95% CI: 2.0, 4.3) among men and 3.8% (95% CI: 1.9, 5.6) among women. The greater part of the decline took place between 1987 and 1991. Significant declines were observed for both in-hospital and out-of-hospital CHD death. Significant improvements in case-fatality were also observed. Recurrent hospitalized myocardial infarction event rate fell an average of 1.9% per year among men (95% CI: 0.7, 3.1) and 2.1% (95% CI: 0.3, 3.9) among women. Average annual per cent change in incident hospitalized myocardial infarction was not statistically significant, except in blacks where there was evidence of an increase over time.


Factors associated with the occurrence of recurrent hospitalized myocardial infarction, as well as those creating a better chance of survival after an event (including reductions in sudden death), were likely the prominent components in the recent decline in CHD mortality in ARIC communities.

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