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Epidemiology of coronary heart disease

Peter WF Wilson, MD
Pamela S Douglas, MD
Section Editors
Bernard J Gersh, MB, ChB, DPhil, FRCP, MACC
Patricia A Pellikka, MD, FACC, FAHA, FASE
Juan Carlos Kaski, MD, DM, DSc, FRCP, FESC, FACC, FAHA
Deputy Editor
Brian C Downey, MD, FACC


Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a major cause of death and disability in developed countries. Although CHD mortality rates worldwide have declined over the past four decades, CHD remains responsible for about one-third or more of all deaths in individuals over age 35 [1-3]. It has been estimated that nearly one-half of all middle-aged men and one-third of middle-aged women in the United States will develop some manifestation of CHD [4].

Population-based epidemiologic data, such as that from the Framingham Heart Study, provide the best assessment of the risk factors that contribute to the development of coronary heart disease (CHD) and to the way it evolves, progresses, and terminates because these data are less encumbered by the unavoidable selection bias of clinical trials data. In addition, epidemiologic data provide critical information regarding targets for the primary and secondary prevention of CHD.

This topic will discuss the incidence, prevalence, trend in mortality, and general prognosis of CHD. The discussion of outcomes after myocardial infarction is found elsewhere. (See "Prognosis after myocardial infarction".)

The incidence, prevalence, and prognosis of non-coronary cardiovascular disease (CVD) such as cerebrovascular or peripheral artery disease are discussed elsewhere.


The terms incidence, prevalence, coronary heart disease, coronary artery disease, and cardiovascular disease, as used in this topic, are defined as follows:


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Literature review current through: Jan 2015. | This topic last updated: Jan 23, 2015.
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