The Study of Cardiovascular Health Outcomes in the Era of Claims Data: The Cardiovascular Health Study
Background—Increasingly, the diagnostic codes from administrative claims data are being used as clinical outcomes.
Methods and Results—Data from the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS) were used to compare event rates and risk-factor associations between adjudicated hospitalized cardiovascular events and claims-based methods of defining events. The outcomes of myocardial infarction (MI), stroke, and heart failure (HF) were defined in three ways: 1) the CHS adjudicated event (CHS[adj]); 2) selected ICD9 diagnostic codes only in the primary position for Medicare claims data from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS[1st]); and 3) the same selected diagnostic codes in any position (CMS[any]). Conventional claims-based methods of defining events had high positive predictive values (PPVs) but low sensitivities. For instance, the PPV of an ICD9 code of 410.x1 for a new acute MI in the first position was 90.6%, but this code identified only 53.8% of incident MIs. The observed event rates were low. For MI, the incidence was 14.9 events per 1000 person years for CHS[adj] MI, 8.6 for CMS[1st] and 12.2 for CMS[any]. In general, CVD risk factor associations were similar across the three methods of defining events. Indeed, traditional CVD risk factors were also associated with all first hospitalizations not due to an MI.
Conclusions—The use of diagnostic codes from claims data as clinical events, especially when restricted to primary diagnoses, leads to an underestimation of event rates. Additionally, claims-based events data represent a composite endpoint that includes the outcome of interest and selected (misclassified) non-event hospitalizations.
- Received July 22, 2015.
- Revision received October 20, 2015.
- Accepted October 29, 2015.