- Dhananjay Vaidya, assistant professor of medicine 1,
- Diane M Becker, professor of medicine1,
- Vera Bittner, professor of medicine2,
- Rasika A Mathias, assistant professor of medicine 1,
- Pamela Ouyang, professor of medicine1
- 1Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA
- 2University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA
- Correspondence to: D Vaidya
- Accepted 8 July 2011
Objectives To use changes in heart disease mortality rates with age to investigate the plausibility of attributing women’s lower heart disease mortality than men to the protective effects of premenopausal sex hormones.
Design Modelling study of longitudinal mortality data with models assuming (i) a linear association between mortality rates and age (absolute mortality) or (ii) a logarithmic association (proportional mortality). We fitted models to age and sex specific mortality rates in the census years 1950 to 2000 for three birth cohorts (1916-25, 1926-35, and 1936-45).
Data sources UK Office for National Statistics and the US National Center for Health Statistics.
Main outcome measure(s) Fit of models to data for England and Wales and for the US.
Results For England-Wales data, proportional increases in ischaemic heart disease mortality fitted the data better than absolute increases (improvement in deviance statistics: women, 58 logarithmic units; men, 37). We identified a deceleration in male mortality after age 45 years (decreasing from 30.3% to 5.2% per age-year, P=0.042), although the corresponding difference in women was non-significant (P=0.43, overall trend 7.9% per age-year, P<0.001). By contrast, female breast cancer mortality decelerated significantly after age 45 years (decreasing from 19.3% to 2.6% per age-year, P<0.001). We found similar results in US data.
Conclusions Proportional age related changes in ischaemic heart disease mortality, suggesting a loss of reparative reserve, fit longitudinal mortality data from England, Wales, and the United States better than absolute age related changes in mortality. Acceleration in male heart disease mortality at younger ages could explain sex differences rather than any menopausal changes in women.
Contributors: DV designed the study, analysed data, drafted the manuscript, and is the data guarantor. DMB, VB, RAM, and PO critically edited the manuscript, and contributed to the interpretation of the analysis.
Funding: DV was supported by the National Center for Research Resources (grant No UL1 RR 025005), a component of the National Institutes of Health.
Competing interests: All authors have completed the Unified Competing Interest form at http://www.icmje.org/coi_disclosure.pdf (available on request from the corresponding author) and declare: no support from any organisation for the submitted work; no financial relationships with any organisations that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous three years, no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.
Ethical approval: Not required.
Data sharing: Analysis dataset appended, no additional data available.
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/ and http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode.