By national statistics, Japanese ischemic heart disease (IHD) mortality is one of the lowest of all industrialized countries, and the proportion of deaths due to heart failure in heart disease is the highest. There may be a difference in diagnostic preference between Japan and other industrialized countries.Methods and Results
IHD deaths according to the death certificates were reevaluated with World Health Organization MONICA criteria for those 25 to 74 years old by use of clinical and police records in a Japanese city with a population of 347 000. Their cause of death was given on the death certificates as IHD (International Classification of Diseases [ICD], ninth revision, codes 410-414), heart failure (428), or other heart diseases (393-405, 415-427, 429) in 1984 through 1986. Some deaths in 1985 through 1986 from stroke (430-438) or other diseases (250, 272, 278, 440-448, 797-799) were added. Of 409 subjects, 397 (97%) could be examined. Reevaluation of the 106 deaths originally diagnosed as IHD yielded 73 IHDs and 11 sudden deaths of unknown origin (SD), and reevaluation of 160 deaths originally called heart failure yielded 26 IHDs and 50 SDs. In total, reevaluation of all 397 deaths yielded 101 IHDs and 69 SDs. Some 88% of SD cases were originally certified as heart failure (72%) or IHD (16%). Only two SDs were originally certified as stroke.Conclusions
Assuming that 30% of SDs were due to IHD, the number of IHD deaths would be 122, which is 11% larger than the number of IHD deaths according to the death certificates. After reevaluation, the IHD mortality in this study area still was the lowest in the industrialized countries.