Heart attack deaths down by 50% in last ten years

The rate of deaths as a result of heart attacks has fallen by almost 50% in Ireland in the last 10 years.

This is according to the National Office of Clinical Audit’s (NOCA) first ever report from the National Audit of Hospital Mortality (NAHM), which was published yesterday.

One of the main findings from the national audit was that in acute myocardial infarction, or heart attacks, there was a significant reduction in deaths per 100 admissions from 11.1 deaths in 2005 to 5.9 in 2015.

“We looked at acute myocardial infarction or heart attack and I suppose there is good news for the Irish health system here and this shouldn’t be surprising that we’ve seen the death rate for heart attack almost reduce by 50% in 10 years,” Dr Brian Creedon, chairman of NAHM’s governance committee said yesterday.

Death from heart attacks was one of five areas looked at in the study.

The audit team also looked at death rates from heart failure, ischemic stroke, haemorrhagic stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and bronchiectasis.

“For heart failure, we’ve again seen a reduction in deaths from heart failure, a significant reduction, but a smaller [one]. We’ve seen very little change for a haemorrhagic stroke or a stroke associated with a bleed and for COPD or chronic lung disease associated with smoking and bronchiectasis,” Dr Creedon said.

For heart failure, there was a reduction from 9.6 deaths, per 100 admissions, in 2005 to 7.9, per 100 admissions, in 2015.

For ischemic stroke, there was a reduction from 14.2 deaths per 100 admissions in 2005 to 10.5 per 100 admissions in 2015.

There was almost no change for haemorrhagic stroke and COPD and bronchiectasis.

Dr Creedon explained the rationale behind choosing those specific illnesses when looking at death rates in our hospitals.

“We picked five and we based that on whether there was a clinical care programme, where there was good clear advice from clinicians about how to measure and particularly around what’s the best treatment.”

“We also looked at whether there was a critical mass, there had to be at least 100 admissions of somebody with that particular condition to the hospital and at least five deaths and that’s to make it so that we can look at the statistical significance of that,” Dr Creedon added.

Due to the methodology used for the audit, it is inaccurate to compare one hospital to another.

Professor Simon Jones, a professor of population health at New York University School of Medicine, worked on the development of the methodology.

“One of the really important points though using this methodology is all you can do is compare a hospital with the national average, you can’t compare hospitals with each other.

“It would be completely inaccurate to say hospital x is better than hospital y, based on this methodology.

“I really do believe, having worked now in four different countries, that I think the Irish system is probably one of the best in the world for mortality monitoring,” he said.


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