The purpose of this paper is to estimate the impact of diabetes on survival among patients with first acute myocardial infarction, using data from the World Health Organization (WHO) Monitoring Trends and Determinants of Cardiovascular Disease (MONICA) Project in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.


The WHO MONICA Project is a community-based surveillance system that monitors coronary heart disease morbidity and mortality. All patients with suspected coronary events were observed for 28 days after the onset of symptoms.


Of 5,322 patients with acute myocardial infarction and no previous history of ischemic heart disease (3,643 men and 1,679 women), 333 men (9%) and 224 women (13%) had a history of diabetes. The age-adjusted 28-day case fatality for women with diabetes (25%) was significantly higher than for women without diabetes (16%); relative risk 1.56 (95% CI: 1.19–2.04). The difference for men was also significant (25% with diabetes and 20% without diabetes); relative risk 1.25 (95% CI: 1.02–1.53). Age-specific case fatality increased significantly with age in both men and women without diabetes, but systematic age effects were not so apparent in patients with diabetes. Case fatality significantly decreased over the study period in patients without diabetes, but not among the diabetic patients.


The increased risk of death in the diabetic patients remained after accounting for their poorer risk factor profiles; even if they reached the hospital alive, diabetic patients were also less likely to survive than nondiabetic patients. The relative impact of diabetes on survival is greater in women than in men.