Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND: Accuracy of routinely collected information concerning cause of death is essential for public health and health systems planning. Since clinical examination has relatively low sensitivity for detection of valvular heart disease (VHD), mortality data based on clinical information alone might routinely underestimate the number of deaths due to VHD. METHODS: We compared autopsy findings against premortem clinical information for 8198 consecutive adult postmortems (mean age 69.1 years, 61.3% men), performed in a single UK tertiary referral centre with on-site cardiac surgical facilities over a 10-year period (2004-2013) during which 21% of the adult population underwent postmortem examination. RESULTS: Following postmortem, VHD was the principal cause of death in 165 individuals (2.0%), a principal or contributory cause ('any cause') of death in 326 (4.0%) and an incidental (ie, non-causal) finding in a further 346 (4.2%). Clinical documentation of VHD before death was highly specific but relatively insensitive for postmortem identification of VHD as the principal (specificity 96.8%; 95% CI 96.4% to 97.2%; sensitivity 69.7%, 95% CI 62.1% to 76.6%) or any (specificity 98.1%; 95% CI 97.8% to 98.4%; sensitivity 68.4%, 95% CI 63.1% to 73.4%) cause of death. VHD (principally aortic stenosis, endocarditis and rheumatic heart disease) was newly noted at postmortem and listed as a cause of death in 142 individuals (1.7%). CONCLUSIONS: Clinical information recorded premortem is highly specific but relatively insensitive for the cause of death established at autopsy. Population-based mortality statistics that depend on premortem clinical information are likely to routinely underestimate the mortality burden of VHD.

Original publication

DOI

10.1136/heartjnl-2016-310718

Type

Journal article

Journal

Heart

Publication Date

07/2017

Volume

103

Pages

1031 - 1035

Keywords

autopsy, death certificates, epidemiology, mortality, valvular heart disease, Aged, Autopsy, Cause of Death, Female, Heart Valve Diseases, Humans, Male, Reproducibility of Results, Survival Rate, United Kingdom