Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

What contribution has cardiac surgery made to the decline in mortality from coronary heart disease?

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 294 doi: (Published 14 February 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;294:405
  1. J M Neutze,
  2. H D White


    The number of deaths from coronary artery disease is declining in New Zealand as in some other Western countries. It has been estimated that in 1981 in the Auckland metropolitan area there were 126 fewer deaths than would have been expected from the data in 1974. The contribution made by cardiac surgery to this decline was assessed from the known numbers of patients who were operated on, from their survival rate, and from the predicted mortality of the surgical cohort had they not undergone operation. Such mortality was predicted from past studies of patients with similar symptoms, exercise data, studies of unstable angina, and the coronary artery surgical study registry. From this method it was estimated that coronary surgery accounted for 26% to 42% of the reduction in coronary deaths. Two previous studies estimated, from calculations based on the European study of patients with modest symptoms, that the contribution of cardiac surgery was much lower. Extrapolating data from one subset of patients to a second subset with quite different characteristics is a conceptual fallacy.