According to the latest available data from the Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics, the 2023 Update of the American Heart Association, the number of people dying from cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the States escalated during the first year of the COVID pandemic, from 874,613 CVD-related deaths recorded in 2019 to 928,741 in 2020. The rise in the number of CVD deaths in 2020 represents the largest single-year increase since 2015 and topped the previous high of 910,000 recorded in 2003. It represents a compilation of the newest, most relevant statistics on heart disease, stroke and risk factors impacting cardiovascular health. It tracks trends related to ideal cardiovascular health, social determinants of health, global cardiovascular health, cardiovascular genetics and healthcare costs. Authors emphasized the importance of this surveillance as a critical resource for the lay public, media professionals, clinicians, health care administrators or advocates, policy makers, researchers and other categories seeking the best available data on these factors and conditions.
The biggest increases in the overall number of CVD-related deaths were seen among Asian, Black and Hispanic people, populations most impacted in the early days of the pandemic, and brought to focus increasing structural and societal disparities. know that COVID-19 took a tremendous toll, and preliminary data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have shown that there was a substantial increase in the loss of lives from all causes since the start of the pandemic. That this likely translated to an increase in overall cardiovascular deaths, possibly to delays in checkups and programmed visits due to social restrictions. It also have been know that many people who had new or existing heart disease and stroke symptoms were reluctant to seek medical care, particularly in the early days of the pandemic. This resulted in people presenting with more advanced stages of cardiovascular conditions and needing more acute or urgent treatment for what may have been manageable chronic conditions. And, sadly, it appears to have taken its deadly toll.
According to the AHA scientists, people from communities of color were among those more highly impacted, especially early on, often due to a disproportionate burden of cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension and obesity. Additionally, there are socioeconomic considerations, as well as the ongoing impact of structural racism on multiple factors including limiting the ability to access quality health care. Appropriately, this year’s statistical update includes many references to COVID-19 and its impact on cardiovascular disease. Available data and findings identified specific gender, race and ethnicity disparities. However, disparities don’t only occur among age, sex and racial/ethnic groups: the commentary noted that data from other underrepresented populations, such as LGBTQ people and people living in rural vs. urban areas. Badly handled hypertension, poor healthcare about food and other risk lifestyles for infarction or brain stroke are still major trends. About inequalities due to disparities, however, is another issue.
- Edited by Dr. Gianfrancesco Cormaci, PhD, specialist in Clinical Biochemistry.
Tsao CW et al. Circulation 2023; Jan 25 online ahrad of print.
Circulation. 2022 Feb 22; 145(8):e153-e639.
Circulation. 2021 Feb 23; 143(8):e254-e743.
Dott. Gianfrancesco Cormaci
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