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Open Access Research article

Ethnic and sex differences in the incidence of hospitalized acute myocardial infarction: British Columbia, Canada 1995-2002

Aman PK Nijjar1*, Hong Wang2, Hude Quan3 and Nadia A Khan1

Author Affiliations

1 Division of General Internal Medicine, University of British Columbia, BC, Canada

2 Center for Health Evaluation and Outcomes Sciences, University of British Columbia, BC, Canada

3 Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, AB, Canada

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BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2010, 10:38  doi:10.1186/1471-2261-10-38

Published: 19 August 2010



As populations in Western countries continue to change in their ethnic composition, there is a need for regular surveillance of diseases that have previously shown some health disparities. Earlier data have already demonstrated high rates of cardiovascular mortality among South Asians and relatively lower rates among people of Chinese descent. The aim of this study was to describe the differences in the incidence of hospitalized acute myocardial infarction (AMI) among the three largest ethnic groups in British Columbia (BC), Canada.


Using hospital administrative data, we identified all patients with incident AMI in BC between April 1, 1995, and March 31, 2002. Census data from 2001 provided the denominator for the entire BC population. Ethnicity was determined using validated surname analysis and applied to the census and hospital administrative datasets. Direct age standardization was used to compare incidence rates.


A total of 34,848 AMI cases were identified. Among men, South Asians had the highest age standardized rate of AMI hospitalization at 4.97/1000 population/year, followed by Whites at 3.29, and then Chinese at 0.98. Young South Asian men, in particular, showed incidence rates that were double that of young Whites and ten times that of young Chinese men. South Asian women also had the highest age-standardized rate of AMI hospitalization at 2.35/1000 population/year, followed by White women (1.53) and Chinese women (0.49).


South Asians continue to have a higher incidence of hospitalized AMI while incidence rates among Chinese remain low. Ethnic differences are most notable among younger men.