Background and Objective
To compare levels of and trends in incidence and hospital mortality of first acute myocardial infarction (AMI) based on routinely collected hospital morbidity data and on linked registers. Cases taken from routine hospital data are a mix of patients with recurrent and first events, and double counting occurs when cases are admitted for an event several times during 1 year. By linkage of registers, recurrent events and double counts can be excluded.
Study Design and Setting
In 1995 and 2000, 28,733 and 25,864 admissions for AMI were registered in the Dutch national hospital discharge register. Linkage with the population register yielded 21,565 patients with a first AMI in 1995 and 20,414 in 2000.
In 1995 and 2000, the incidence based on the hospital register was higher than based on the linked registers in men (22% and 23% higher) and women (18% and 20% higher). In both years, hospital mortality based on the hospital register and on linked registers was similar. The decline in incidence between 1995 and 2000 was comparable whether based on standard hospital register data or linked data (18% and 20% in men, 15% and 17% in women). Similarly, the decline in hospital mortality was comparable using either approach (11% and 9% in both men and women).
Although the incidence based on routine hospital data overestimates the actual incidence of first AMI based on linked registers, hospital mortality and trends in incidence and hospital mortality are not changed by excluding recurrent events and double counts. Since trends in incidence and hospital mortality of AMI are often based on national routinely collected data, it is reassuring that our results indicate that findings from such studies are indeed valid and not biased because of recurrent events and double counts.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10654-007-9174-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.