Objective: To investigate the effect of socioeconomic group (with reference to age and sex) on the rate of, course of, and survival after coronary events. Design: Community coronary event register from 1985 to 1991. Setting: City of Glasgow north of the River Clyde, population 196,000. Subjects: 3991 men and 1551 women aged 25-64 years on the Glasgow MONICA coronary event register with definite or fatal possible or unclassifiable events according to the criteria of the World Health Organisation's MONICA project (monitoring trends and determinants in cardiovascular disease). Main outcome measures: Rate of coronary events; proportion of subjects reaching hospital alive; case fatality in admitted patients and in community overall. Results: Event rates increased with age for both sexes and were greater in men than women at all ages. The rate increased 1.7-fold in men and 2.4-fold in women from the least (Q1) to the most (Q4) deprived socioeconomic quarter. The socioeconomic gradient decreased with age and was steeper for women than men. The proportion treated in:hospital (66%) decreased with age, was greater in women than men, and decreased in both sexes with increasing deprivation (age standardised odds ratio 0.82 for Q4 v Q1) Case fatality in hospital (20%) increased with age, was greater for women than men when age was standardised, and showed no strong socioeconomic pattern. Overall case fatality in the community (50%) increased with age, was similar between the sexes, and increased from Q1 to Q4 (age standardised odds ratio 1.12 in men, 1.18 in women). Conclusions: Socioeconomic group affects not only death rates from myocardial infarction but also event rates and chance of admission. This should be taken into account when different groups of patients are compared. Because social deprivation is associated with so many more deaths outside hospital, primary and secondary prevention are more likely than acute hospital care to reduce the socioeconomic variation in mortality.
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