The contribution of secular changes in the distribution of ischemic heart disease risk factors and medical care utilization to the decline in ischemic heart disease mortality was investigated using data collected on the nine-year ischemic heart disease mortality experience of two cohorts selected to be representative of Alameda County, California, in 1965 and 1974. With adjustment for age, sex, race, and baseline ischemic heart disease conditions and symptoms, there was a 45% decline in the nine-year odds of ischemic heart disease mortality between the two cohorts (1965/1974, odds ratio (OR) = 1.82, p = 0.0001). Further adjustment for cohort differences in the following ischemic heart disease risk factors did not explain the decline: smoking status, leisure-time physical activity, self-assessed physical activity, alcohol consumption, body mass index, or social network participation; neither did adjustment for measures of education, utilization of preventive medical care, availability of a regular physician or clinic, health insurance coverage, number of physician visits during the last 12 months, or occupation. There was no change in the estimated ischemic heart disease decline when all adjustment variables were included in a logistic model (1965/1974, OR = 1.81, p = 0.0002). These variables do not appear to explain the large decline in nine-year ischemic heart disease mortality between these two cohorts.
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[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Because it still is widely believed that one deadly disease after another is being eliminated, or diminished, largely because of medical interventions, there is little commitment to social change and even resistance to a reordering of national priorities. In this article we examine the contribution of medical measures to recent mortality changes in coronary heart disease, cancer, and stroke, which together account for two-thirds of total U.S. mortality and consume the vast majority of available resources. Morbidity changes are also examined and found to be not declining in a manner congruent with mortality and, in fact, increasing for some subgroups. Using a combined measure of mortality and morbidity (the probability of a life free of disability), it is demonstrated that although overall life expectancy has increased over several decades, most of this increase is in years of disability. Our late 20th century approach to the emerging AIDS pandemic (the frantic search for a "magic bullet"--either a treatment or a vaccine) belies any suggestion that the arguments and data presented concerning the modest contribution of medical measures are now passé.
No preview · Article · Feb 1989 · International Journal of Health Services
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Trends in coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality were examined among 35-44-year-old white men during 1970-1986. Death certificates were obtained for 1,216 cases. All were coroner-certified natural deaths and noncoroner-certified deaths due to vascular diseases and diabetes mellitus. Autopsy data, coroner's reports, hospital records, physician's reports, and informants were used to validate diagnoses. The reviewers rejected 73 of 805 CHD certifications, but they validated 54 cases not certified as CHD on the death certificate as CHD. The CHD mortality rate fell from 90.6/100,000/year in 1970-1972 to 40.3/100,000/year in 1985-1986. Approximately two thirds of the decline was related to a decline in sudden deaths including 41.6% due to incident sudden CHD death. The proportion of diabetics among validated CHD deaths rose dramatically from 6.5% in 1970-1972 to 23.0% in 1985-1986. The CHD mortality rate among diabetics apparently did not decline during the 17 years of the study. We conclude that primary prevention has contributed substantially to the CHD decline in the 35-44-year age group. Better diagnoses and treatment, especially of angina pectoris and of patients after a myocardial infarction, may also have been important. Control of CHD in diabetics must take high priority in further prevention strategies.