BACKGROUND: Death is a common complication from myocardial infarction, although little information exists about the pattern of mortality from myocardial infarction and factors associated with this pattern. OBJECTIVES: To identify the periods of greater-than-expected mortality from myocardial infarction in hospitalized patients and to determine whether an association exists between time of death and age of the patient. METHODS: A convenience sample of 1045 death certificates that met selection criteria was reviewed. Time of death and age were documented as they appeared on the death certificate. Data were analyzed by log-linear analysis. RESULTS: Frequency of mortality was determined to be greater than expected between 6 and 6:59 AM, 9 and 9:59 AM and 7 and 7:59 PM. The interaction between time of death and age was statistically significant. DISCUSSION: The periods of greater-than-expected mortality coincide with periods when nurses are occupied with other functions and also coincide with temporal patterns of physiologic events. CONCLUSIONS: A temporal pattern of mortality from myocardial infarction existed for this study. Age was found to be associated with time of death.

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