Heart disease deaths had steep rise in U.S. in the first year of COVID-19 pandemic

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In a report from the American Heart Association, scientists found the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic saw a steep rise in cardiovascular disease deaths in the U.S.

They found heart disease-related deaths jumped from 874,613 in 2019 to 928,741 in 2020, the largest single-year increase since 2015. The number of deaths surpassed the previous high of 910,000 in 2003.

Cardiovascular disease includes heart disease, stroke, heart failure and hypertension, or high blood pressure. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S. and globally.

The reversal was not surprising in light of the tremendous impact COVID-19 had on people of all ages, especially before vaccines were available to slow the spread.

Asian, Black and Hispanic communities had the largest increases in cardiovascular-related deaths, highlighting ongoing structural and societal disparities,

The report highlights the many ways COVID-19 impacts cardiovascular health, including its relationship to risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

Factors such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure put people at higher risk for more severe COVID-19 illness.

The report also highlights a variety of gender, race and ethnicity-related disparities that surfaced in the research.

This year’s statistical update includes data showing global and regional trends in deaths related to different heart disease diagnoses and risk factors.

The data show that globally, ischemic heart disease, also known as coronary heart disease, and stroke are the top two causes of death linked to cardiovascular disease, with rates rising around the world over the past decade in all but two regions – North America and Europe/Central Asia. In North America, heart disease death rates have been falling in recent decades, from 28.2% of all deaths in 1990 to 18.7% in 2019. Stroke deaths fell from 7.3% of all deaths in 1990 to 6.4% in 2019.

In Europe and Central Asia, heart disease death rates fell from 27.2% of all deaths in 1990 to 24.4% in 2019, with stroke death rates falling from 15.1% to 12.5% during that time.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about Aspirin linked to one fourth higher risk of heart failure, and what COVID vaccine you get could affect your heart inflammation risk.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about a root cause of chronic heart failure, and results showing eating an avocado once a week may reduce heart disease risk.

The study was conducted by Dr. Connie W. Tsao et al and published in Circulation.

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