• coronary artery disease;
  • epidemiology;
  • mortality;
  • prevention;
  • treatments

Abstract.  Björck L, Capewell S, Bennett K, Lappas G, Rosengren A (Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden; University of Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom; Trinity College and St. James’s Hospital, Dublin, Ireland). Increasing evidence-based treatments to reduce coronary heart disease mortality in Sweden: quantifying the potential gains. J Intern Med 2011; 269: 452–467.

Objectives.  Between 1986 and 2002, coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality in Sweden fell by more than 50%. Approximately one-third (4800 fewer deaths) of this decline in age-adjusted CHD mortality could be attributed to treatments in patients with CHD and primary prevention medications. High treatment levels were achieved in some cases, but in others, only 50–80% of eligible patients received appropriate therapy. We therefore examined to what extent increasing the use of specific treatments in eligible patients might have reduced CHD mortality rates in Sweden.

Design and methods.  We used the previously validated IMPACT CHD model to combine data on CHD patient numbers, medical and surgical uptake levels and treatment effectiveness. We estimated the number of deaths prevented or postponed for 2002 (baseline scenario) and for an alternative scenario (if at least 60% of eligible patients were treated).

Results.  If treatments were increased to consistently cover at least 60% of eligible patients, approximately 8900 deaths could have been postponed or prevented, representing a potential gain of approximately 4100 fewer deaths than actually occurred in 2002. Approximately 45% of the 4100 gain would have come from primary prevention with statins, 23% from acute coronary syndrome treatments, 15% from secondary prevention therapies and 15% from treatments for heart failure.

Conclusion.  Increasing the proportion of eligible patients with CHD who receive evidence-based treatment could have resulted in approximately 4100 fewer deaths in 2002, almost doubling the actual mortality reduction. These findings further emphasize the importance of aggressively identifying and treating patients with CHD and high-risk individuals.