Background: Although age-adjusted heart disease mortality has declined since the 1960s, this decline may not have applied equally to all subgroups. Objective: To examine recent trends in heart disease mortality, specifically in women and in the elderly. Methods: Age- and sex-specific heart disease mortality (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Edition, Clinical Modification [ICD-9-CM] codes 390-398, 402, 404-429) in Olmsted County, Minnesota, between 1979 and 1994 were studied. Results: The total number of heart disease deaths was 3095; 1578 (51%) occurred in women and 1984 (64%) in persons aged 75 years or older. Most heart disease deaths (77%) were coronary disease deaths (ICD-9-CM codes 410-414). Age-adjusted heart disease mortality rates declined from 123 per 100,000 (95% confidence interval [CI], 102- 144/100,000) in 1979 to 81 per 100,000 (95% CI, 67-95/100,000) in 1994. Poisson regression analyses indicated that the trends differed according to sex and age. For women, the relative risk (RR) of heart disease death in 1994 compared with 1979 was 0.69 vs 0.53 for men (P = .06). This equates to a decline in heart disease mortality of 2.5% per year in women or 32% over the period and 4.2% per year in men or 47% over the period. The decline was less pronounced as age increased (P<.001). For 60-year-old women, the RR for 1994 compared with 1979 was 0.59, whereas for 80-year-old women, the RR for 1994 compared with 1979 was 0.76. For men, the RR for 1994 compared with 1979 was 0.60 for 80-year-old men vs 0.46 for 60-year-old men. Conclusions: Between 1979 and 1994, in Olmsted County, the decline in heart disease mortality was of lesser magnitude in women and in the elderly, emphasizing the importance of age- and sex-specific trends to characterize time patterns in heart disease deaths to target preventive measures.
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