As a new study, the number of people dying from cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the United States increased during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, rising from 874,613 in 2019 to 928,741 in 2020.
According to data published in the American Heart Association’s flagship peer-reviewed journal Circulation, the increase in CVD deaths in 2020 represents the most significant single-year increase since 2015, surpassing the previous high of 910,000 recorded in 2003.
According to data reported in the Association’s 2023 Statistical Update, more people died from cardiovascular-related causes in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, than in any year since 2003. Asian, Black, and Hispanic people experienced the most significant increases in mortality.
“While the total number of CVD-related deaths increased from 2019 to 2020. What may be more telling is that our age-adjusted mortality rate increased for the first time in many years by a fairly significant 4.6 percent,” said Connie W. Tsao, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
“I think that’s very indicative of what’s been happening in our country and worldwide in light of people ages impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Especially before vaccines were available to slow the spread,” said Tsao, an attending staff cardiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a significant increase in deaths from all causes.
“While disappointing, it is not surprising that this likely translated into an increase in cardiovascular deaths. The Association predicted this trend, which is now official,” said Michelle A. Albert, volunteer president of the American Heart Association and a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).
The virus has been linked to new clotting and inflammation. Many people with new or existing heart diseases and stroke symptoms were hesitant to seek medical attention, especially in the early days of the pandemic.
“As a result, people with more advanced stages of cardiovascular disease required more acute or urgent treatment for what could have been manageable chronic conditions. And, unfortunately, it appears to have cost many people their lives.” Albert explained.
Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death worldwide, killing more than 19 million people each year, including people of all ages, genders, and nationalities.
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