Methods of assessing prevalent cardiovascular disease in the Cardiovascular Health Study

Bruce M. Psaty, Lewis H. Kuller, Diane Bild, Gregory L. Burke, Steven J. Kittner, Maurice Mittelmark, Thomas R. Price, Pentti M. Rautaharju, John A Robbins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

386 Scopus citations


The objective of this article is to describe the methods of assessing cardiovascular conditions among older adults recruited to the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS), a cohort study of risk factors for coronary disease and stroke. Medicare eligibility lists from four US communities were used to obtain a representative sample of 5201 community-dwelling elderly, who answered standardized questionnaires and underwent an extensive clinic examination at baseline. For each cardiovascular condition, self-reports were confirmed by components of the baseline examination or, if necessary, by a validation protocol that included either the review of medical records or surveys of treating physicians. Potential underreporting of a condition was detected either by the review of medical records at baseline for other self-reported conditions or, during prospective follow-up, by the investigation of potential incident events. For myocardial infarction, 75.5% of the self-reports in men and 60.6% in women were confirmed. Self-reported congestive heart failure was confirmed in 73.3% of men and 76.6% of women; stroke, in 59.6% of men and 53.8% of women; and transient ischemic attack, in 41.5% of men and 37.0% of women. Underreporting was also common. During prospective follow-up of an average of about 3 years per person, approximately 50% of men and 38% of women were hospitalized or investigated for at least one potential incident event; for each cardiovascular condition, about 1 to 4% of those investigated during prospective follow-up were found to have had the cardiovascular condition prior to entry into the cohort. While the proportions of false-negative self-reports were small, the underreported events nonetheless represented 10 to 35% of all subjects with a prevalent condition at baseline. Underreporting and overreporting of cardiovascular diseases were common among older adults. The CHS baseline disease classifications have served to define accurately the denominators for analyses of incident events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)270-277
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Epidemiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1995


  • angina pectoris
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • congestive heart failure
  • elderly
  • methods
  • myocardial infarction
  • reliability
  • stroke
  • transient ischemic attack
  • validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Medicine(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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