Coronary mortality declines in the U.S. between 1980 and 2000 quantifying the contributions from primary and secondary prevention

Am J Prev Med. 2010 Sep;39(3):228-34. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2010.05.009.


Background: Coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality rates in the U.S. have halved since 1980. However, CHD remains a leading cause of death. The relative importance of secondary and primary prevention in explaining falls in coronary heart disease mortality is debated.

Purpose: The aim of this study was to quantify the primary and secondary preventive contributions to the U.S. CHD mortality fall between 1980 and 2000.

Methods: The IMPACT model was used to estimate contributions to the U.S. CHD mortality fall from risk factor declines in asymptomatic individuals (primary prevention) and in CHD patients (secondary prevention). Analyses were carried out in 2008.

Results: Approximately 316,100 fewer deaths were attributable to risk factor declines: 64,930 in CHD patients (21%) and 251,170 in asymptomatic individuals (79%). Smoking declines accounted for approximately 8390 fewer deaths in CHD patients and for 46,315 fewer deaths in asymptomatic people. Cholesterol falls gave approximately 22,210 fewer deaths in CHD patients and 107,300 fewer deaths in asymptomatic people. Statins accounted for approximately 16,580 fewer deaths, that is, one sixth of this mortality fall. Systolic blood pressure declines accounted for approximately 34,330 fewer deaths among CHD patients and 97,555 fewer deaths in asymptomatic individuals. Antihypertensive medications accounted for approximately 23,845 fewer deaths.

Conclusions: Half of the U.S. mortality fall in coronary heart disease between 1980 and 2000 was attributable to risk factor declines, with primary prevention producing substantially larger mortality reductions than secondary.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology
  • Coronary Disease / mortality*
  • Coronary Disease / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Mortality / trends
  • Primary Prevention / methods
  • Primary Prevention / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Secondary Prevention / methods
  • Secondary Prevention / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology