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Open Access Research article

The dynamics of mortality in follow-up time after an acute myocardial infarction, lower extremity arterial disease and ischemic stroke

Ilonca Vaartjes1*, Ineke van Dis2, Diederick E Grobbee1 and Michiel L Bots2

Author Affiliations

1 Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands

2 Netherlands Heart Foundation, The Hague, the Netherlands

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BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2010, 10:57  doi:10.1186/1471-2261-10-57

Published: 25 November 2010



Most studies providing data on survival in patients with atherosclerosis only address a single disease site: heart, brain or legs. Therefore, our objective was to determine risk of death after first hospital admission for atherosclerotic disease located at different sites.


A nationwide cohort of patients hospitalized for the first time for acute myocardial infarction (AMI), peripheral arterial disease of the lower extremities (PAD) or ischemic stroke was identified through linkage of national registers. The mortality rate in AMI patients was compared to mortality rate in ischemic stroke and PAD patients by estimating relative risks (with 95%CI). Cox's proportional hazard models were used to estimate sex differences in risk of death.


Case fatality was high for ischemic stroke patients (men:21.0%, women:23.8%) and AMI patients (men:12.7%, women:20.9%) though low for PAD patients (men:2.4%, women:3.5%). The five-year risk of death was similar for male AMI compared to PAD patients (men: RR1.04; 95%CI 0.98-1.11). The risk of death for ischemic stroke patients remained the highest though the differences with AMI and PAD patients attenuated.


The dynamics of mortality over follow-up time clearly differ between atherosclerotic diseases, located at different vascular beds. The risk of death increases considerably over follow-up time for PAD patients, and 5 years after first hospital admission the differences in risks of death between AMI- and PAD patients and between AMI- and ischemic stroke patients have largely attenuated. Clinicians should be aware of these dynamics of mortality over follow-up time to provide optimal secondary prevention treatment.