Mortality rates from coronary heart disease (CHD), and from acute myocardial infarction (AMI) in particular, have been declining steadily since the 1970s[1, 2]. Data from the MONICA study suggests that two thirds of this decline can be attributed to changes in the incidence of first CHD events. Since the end of the MONICA study, CHD incidence has been monitored through national registries based on continuous updating of routinely collected data from hospital records. These data, however, are not without limitations. In this edition of heart, Cheuk Chan et al. show that data from total hospital admissions can be misleading. Previous reports based on the same data showed a marked increase in hospital admissions for AMI, signalling a new epidemic of CHD. In a thorough re-analysis, Cheuk Chan et al. demonstrate that this is solely due to an increase in AMI readmissions and changes in diagnostic practices, rather than an increase in the incidence of first AMI. In fact, as in several other Western populations[1, 2], incidence of first AMI has been declining steadily in New Zealand since 1993.
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