During the previous decade, many strategies for preventing acute myocardial infarction found to be efficacious in randomized controlled trials have been adopted by physicians in the community. Although evaluations of quality improvement typically focus on process measures at the hospital, practice, or clinician level, assessment of improvements in health outcomes remains the true test for the successful translation of evidence into practice.
We performed a review of the current literature examining trends in the incidence of myocardial infarction in communities. We focused specifically on the group of population-based studies that have examined trends in myocardial infarction incidence.
Few population-based studies have examined recent temporal trends in the incidence of myocardial infarction, overall and by type. Existing studies have been largely limited by modest sample sizes, limited diversity within the study populations, the use of composite end points that combine disparate outcomes, and the inability to characterize the effect of long-term outpatient medication use on observed trends in incidence and severity of myocardial infarction.
More contemporary assessments of community-wide changes in the epidemiology of myocardial infarction are needed to help assess the effectiveness of primary prevention and to identify areas for potential improvement.