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The spectrum of valvular heart diseases (VHDs) has evolved during the past decades in the developed countries. However, there are few epidemiological data on VHD and large contemporary population-based studies are lacking. In this issue of the journal, Andell et al present the findings of a nationwide study in Sweden that includes a population of about 10 million people.1 The authors used nationwide registers to identify all patients with first diagnosis of VHD at Swedish hospitals between 2003 and 2010. The cases diagnosed in the years 2000, 2001 and 2002 were excluded, therefore allowing to estimate the incidence rates of VHDs. The incidence of each VHD was then stratified for age and sex.
Andell et al should be commended for this elegant and important study that provides a contemporary and comprehensive portrait of the epidemiology spectrum of VHD within a large European country.1 Previous epidemiology studies on VHD included either representative samples2 or primary care series recruited locally3 and the majority of these studies reported only prevalence rates. Incidence rates have been previously reported for aortic stenosis (AS)4 5 but the present study is the first to report incidence rates for the different VHDs.
A contemporary portrait of the epidemiology of VHD in Sweden
Over the 8-year period of the present study conducted in the Swedish population, a new diagnosis of VHD was identified in close to 77 000 persons.1 The overall incidence of VHD was 63.9 per 100 000 person-years and the most common disease was AS (47%) , followed by mitral regurgitation (MR) (24%) and aortic regurgitation (AR) (18%) (figure 1). In the vast majority (68.9%) of the cases, the VHDs were diagnosed in subjects aged ≥65 years, except for pulmonary valve disease whose incidence peaked in newborns. Half of the persons with AS also had atherosclerotic vascular disease, which provides further support to the commonality …
Contributors MAC drafted the first version of the editorial and figures. BI and PP made critical revisions to the text and figures.
Funding PP holds the Canada Research Chair (Level I) in Valvular Heart Diseases and his research programme is supported by a grant (#FDN-143225) from the Canadian Institutes of Healthresearch (Ottawa, Canada).
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.
Correction notice This paper has been amended since it was published Online First. Owing to a scripting error, some of the publisher names in the references were replaced with ‘BMJ Publishing Group’. This only affected the full text version, not the PDF. We have since corrected these errors and the correct publishers have been inserted into the references.