Heart Attack (MI): Measures and Data
Why are heart attacks a public health concern?A heart attack is also called a myocardial infarction (MI). Although there has been a gradual decline in MI deaths over the past 20 years in Washington State (and nationally), there were over 2,000 deaths and roughly 10,000 hospitalizations from MI among Washington citizens in 2007. Total charges for these hospitalizations were over $460 million. Rates of hospitalization have not declined parallel to rates of death, likely reflecting improvements in MI survival due to improvements in medical care and emergency response. Self-reported data from the 2005 Washington State Behaviorial Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey suggested about 5% of Washington adults have had coronary heart disease, or angina, or had a heart attack. Scientific analysis has not yet quantified the precise proportion of MI which is attributable to environmental pollution; such quantification is difficult because the causes of MI generally act in combination rather than separately.
How are heart attacks tracked?There currently is no single heart attack surveillance system in place in Washington state. The Department of Health (DOH) uses various sources of data:
Published data on coronary heart disease (the broader category which includes MI) are included in the Health of Washington State report.
What is being done?The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funds the Washington State Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention Program. Washington State aims to:
- Focus MI-related activities statewide. Develop, implement and update a comprehensive state plan.
- Establish a comprehensive emergency cardiac and stroke care system statewide that transprots MI patients to the right hospital in time to receive evidence-based treatment.
- Increase understanding of MI-related data. Provide routine data updates to stakeholders, including publishing and updating The Burden of Heart Disease & Stroke in Washington State report.
- Facilitate an integrated approach to address risk factors and reduce chronic diseases in all parts of our state-–communities, worksites and healthcare settings.
- Increase awareness of the relationship between air pollution and heart attack.
- Support the Washington State State Patient-Centered Medical Home Collaborative, which works to improve health care for patients with chronic diseases at the primary care level.