Background: The revolution in coronary care in the mid-1980s to mid-1990s corresponded with monitoring of coronary heart disease (CHD) in 31 populations of the WHO MONICA Project. We studied the impact of this revolution on coronary endpoints.
Methods: Case fatality, coronary-event rates, and CHD mortality were monitored in men and women aged 35-64 years in two separate 3-4-year periods. In each period, we recorded percentage use of eight treatments: coronary-artery reperfusion before, thrombolytics during, and beta-blockers, antiplatelet drugs, and angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors before and during non-fatal myocardial infarction. Values were averaged to produce treatment scores. We correlated changes across populations, and regressed changes in coronary endpoints on changes in treatment scores.
Findings: Treatment changes correlated positively with each other but inversely with change in coronary endpoints. By regression, for the common average treatment change of 20, case fatality fell by 19% (95% CI 12-26) in men and 16% (5-27) in women; coronary-event rates fell by 25% (16-35) and 23% (7-39); and CHD mortality rates fell by 42% (31-53) and 34% (17-50). The regression model explained an estimated 61% and 41% of variance for men and women in trends for case fatality, 52% and 30% for coronary-event rates, and 72% and 56% for CHD mortality.
Interpretation: Changes in coronary care and secondary prevention were strongly linked with declining coronary endpoints. Scores and benefits followed a geographical east-to-west gradient. The apparent effects of the treatment might be exaggerated by other changes in economically successful populations, so their specificity needs further assessment.