Community-based registers participating in the MONICA Project of the World Health Organization show markedly different attack and death rates of coronary heart disease. This variation is a function of both the incidence and case fatality occurring within countries. The contribution of case fatality to the international variation in coronary heart disease mortality rates is not well understood.Methods and Results.
The register data from eight study populations-Augsburg and Bremen in Germany, Auckland in New Zealand, Perth and Newcastle in Australia, and North Karelia, Kuopio, and Turku/Loimaa in Finland-were compared. All patients with definite myocardial infarction or coronary death aged 35 to 64 years occurring in the study populations in 1985 through 1989 are the basis for the case fatality calculations by different definitions: 28-day case fatality for all cases, for hospitalized cases, and for hospitalized 24-hour survivors; out-of-hospital case fatality; and 24-hour case fatality for hospitalized cases. Differences in case fatality were much smaller than differences in attack and mortality rates in these populations. About two thirds of deaths occurred before the patients reached a hospital. The 28-day case fatality ranged from 37% for men in Perth to 58% for women in Augsburg. Among those who reached the hospital alive, 28-day case fatality was 13% to 27% for men and 20% to 35% for women. In those who survived 24 hours from the onset of symptoms, 28-day case fatality was 8% to 17% for men and 12% to 26% for women.Conclusions.
Differences in case fatality were not associated with differences in coronary mortality rates between these populations. As most deaths occurred before reaching a hospital, opportunities for reducing case fatality through improved hospital care are limited. This emphasizes the primary role of prevention in reducing coronary death rates. (Circulation.1993;88:2524–2531.)