Heart Attacks Declining in Frequency and Mortality

April 8, 2019

Good news in heart health- a study in JAMA by Harlan Krumholz, MD, SM, Harold H. Hines, Jr. Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) at Yale School of Medicine, Sharon-Lise Normand, PhD,  S. James Adelstein Professor of Health Care Policy (Biostatistics), and Yun Wang, PhD, senior research scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, has shown that Americans are less likely to have and die from acute myocardial infarction (AMI) than they were in the 1990s.The American College of Cardiology reports that “there has been a ‘remarkable and progressive’ decline in rates of [AMI] in older adults over the past 20 years, and mortality after AMI is at a historic low.”

In the United States’ largest and most comprehensive study of AMI, the team analyzed 4 million Medicare patients from 1995 to 2014. Their investigation showed that hospitalizations for AMI have decreased by 38% and the 30-day mortality rate is at an all-time low of 12%, a 1/3 decrease since 1995.

What do Americans have to thank for these lower numbers? Organizations like the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the American College of Cardiology, and the American Heart Association have made focused efforts to reduce AMI risk. They work together to promote health lifestyles, address risk factors, and improve the quality of care the AMI patients receive.

Unfortunately, these results were not uniform across the country as results varied from county to county. “Priority health areas”, which the study team identified as lagging areas, saw little to no change in their 30-day mortality rates. The study suggests that these areas should receive more specialized attention as AMI health care continues to improve.

This study has been featured in the New York Times.