Objectives: To compare rates of mortality from coronary heart disease (CHD) between populations living within and outside Australian capital city statistical divisions.
Design and setting: Descriptive epidemiological study based on data for all residents of Australia aged 30-69 years who died between 1986 and 1996 in all States and Territories of Australia.
Main outcome measures: Standardised mortality rates from all causes and coronary heart disease as coded by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and estimated excess deaths in populations living outside capital city statistical divisions.
Results: Between 1986 and 1996, mortality from CHD declined by 46% in men and 51% in women, and accounted for 61% of the decline in mortality from all causes in men and 48% in women. More deaths than expected from acute myocardial infarction resulted in mortality rates from CHD up to 30% higher in men and 21% higher in women living outside the capital city statistical divisions, and accounted for an overall estimated excess of 3835 deaths from CHD in men (32% of excess deaths from all causes), and 1385 deaths from CHD in women (27% of excess deaths from all causes) over the 11-year study period.
Conclusions: Although there were impressive declines in coronary mortality in all Australian States and Territories from 1986 to 1996, populations living outside capital cities continue to have higher death rates from CHD. These differences in mortality rates indicate a need for further research into factors which may influence mortality rates for CHD in rural and remote areas, and immediate measures to ensure optimal treatment of coronary risk factors and acute coronary events in such populations.