In a new study, researchers found total deaths from heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure—known collectively as cardiometabolic diseases—have been increasing since 2011.
The research was conducted by a team from Northwestern Medicine.
The cardiometabolic disease is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide.
The scientists examined data from all United States deaths between 1999 and 2017 from the Centers for Disease Control’s Wide-Ranging Online Database for Epidemiological Research (WONDER), with a specific focus on deaths caused by heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and hypertension.
They found until 2011, advancements in the diagnosis and medical and surgical treatment of cardiovascular disease had led to declines in deaths related to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Since then, however, age-adjusted mortality rates due to heart disease, stroke and diabetes have flattened, and death rates due to hypertension are increasing.
The culprit may be the rise in obesity in recent decades.
Although this dataset did not allow for the identification of the causes of the worsening cardiometabolic disease trends, the prevalence of obesity has risen significantly since 2011, and obesity is a major risk factor for heart disease.
While the overall rate of heart disease deaths decreased over time, the rate of decline slowed after 2010.
Deaths from stroke and diabetes declined from 1999 to 2010 but leveled off after that. Deaths from high blood pressure increased between 1999 and 2017.
Cardiometabolic death rates for black Americans remain higher than those for white Americans.
The team says the majority of deaths attributable to cardiometabolic disease are preventable.
The findings make it clear that we are losing ground in the battle against cardiovascular disease.
People need to shift our focus as a nation toward prevention to achieve our goal of living longer, healthier and free of cardiovascular disease.
It is critical that prevention and management of risk factors for cardiometabolic health begins early in life.
This means consulting your doctor to assess your risk factors and engaging in heart-healthy behaviors.
The lead author of the study is Dr. Sadiya Khan, assistant professor of cardiology and epidemiology at Northwestern University.
The study is published in JAMA.
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