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Heart Disease Deaths Over-Reported in New York City

Study says doctors overestimated in-hospital mortality by 51%

FRIDAY, Feb. 22 (HealthDay News) -- New research suggests that in-hospital deaths from heart disease are over-reported in New York City.

Although it has one of the highest reported heart disease death rates in the United States, the rate of heart disease risk factors among residents of the city is comparable to the national average, according to background information in the study.

This apparent inconsistency led public health officials at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, along with researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to examine the accuracy of reported heart disease mortality on death certificates.

The team looked at a random sample of heart disease-related in-hospital deaths in New York City between January 2003 and June 2003. Medical information from the patients' hospital charts was provided to an external panel of doctors, who reviewed the information to evaluate the accuracy of reporting heart disease on the death certificates.

The study authors then calculated a comparability ratio of reported heart disease deaths on death certificates to heart disease deaths validated by the panel of doctors.

The researchers concluded that there was a 51 percent overestimation of in-hospital heart disease deaths among people aged 35 to 74. The comparability ratio increased with age.

"The findings suggest that substantial over-reporting of CHD [coronary heart disease] as a cause of death may be occurring in New York City among in-hospital deaths. These findings have important implications for the assessment of cardiovascular disease burden among New York City residents, as well as the quality of physician cause of death reporting," the researchers concluded.

The finding will be presented this week at the American College of Preventive Medicine annual meeting in Austin, Texas.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about coronary heart disease.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Preventive Medicine, news release, Feb. 21, 2008

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