Although coronary artery disease (CAD) remains the leading cause of death in most industrialised countries, mortality rates have declined since the 1970s (see Indicator 1.4 "Mortality from heart disease and stroke"). Much of the reduction
can be attributed to lower mortality from acute myocardial infarction (AMI), due to better treatment in the acute phase. Care for AMI has changed dramatically in recent decades, with the introduction of coronary care units in the 1960s (Khush et al.,
2005) and with the advent of treatment aimed at rapidly restoring coronary blood flow in the 1980s (Gil et al., 1999). This success is all the more remarkable as data suggest that the incidence of AMI has not declined (Goldberg et al., 1999;
Parikh et al., 2009). However, numerous studies have shown that a considerable proportion of AMI patients fail to receive evidence‐based care (Eagle et al., 2005). AMI accounts for about half of the deaths from CAD,
with the cost of care for CAD accounting for as much as 10% of health care expenditures in industrialised countries (OECD, 2003a).