The number of deaths from cardiovascular disease (CVD) has increased by 6.2% in the US during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of CVD-related fatalities climbed from 874,613 in 2019 to 928,741 in 2020, which is higher than the previous high of 910,000 in 2003 and represents the largest yearly increase since 2015. The American Heart Association, a global advocate promoting healthy lives for all, provided this information in its Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics – 2024 Update.
Insights of an assistant professor at Harvard: –
According to Connie W. Tsao, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, “the age-adjusted mortality rate adjusts for the possibility that the population as a whole gets older from year to year. Older people are at high risk and are also projected to be dying at greater rates.”
Even more startling than the total rise in CVD-related fatalities from 2019 to 2020, according to Tsao, was the age-adjusted mortality rate’s first increase in many years at a very significant rate of 4.6%.
Despite the fact that the total death rate has been steadily increasing over the previous 10 years, the age-adjusted rates have been decreasing each year till 2020. He continued, “That is a pretty good reflection of what has been happening in our country and around the world given that people of all ages were afflicted by the COVID-19 outbreak, particularly before immunizations were available to curb the spread.”
Asians, Blacks and Hispanics experienced the largest increase in the overall number of CVD-related deaths. These communities which were severely hit in the early stages of the pandemic brought to light the growing structural and societal disparities which were prevailing.
Research findings of a professor at University of California: –
Michelle A. Albert, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) states, “We are aware that COVID-19 caused a great deal of suffering, and preliminary figures from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that deaths from all causes have increased significantly since the pandemic’s beginning.
“Although disappointing, it is not surprising that this likely led to an increase in overall cardiovascular fatalities. The Association actually predicted this trend, which is now official.”
He continued by elaborating that cardiovascular health is negatively impacted by COVID-19 in both direct and indirect ways. Inflammation and new clotting are closely linked to the virus.
Many people, whether they had experienced any heart disease or stroke symptoms before or not, were reluctant to seek medical care, especially in the early phases of the pandemic.
People began reporting more severe cardiovascular disorders as a result, necessitating more urgent or acute care for ailments that may have been chronic but under control. Albert stated, “Unfortunately, it also appears to have claimed many lives.”
“People from communities of color were among those who were more severely affected, especially in the beginning, generally due to a disproportionate burden of cardiovascular risk factors like hypertension and obesity. In addition to these, socio-economic reasons and the persistent effects of structural racism on numerous aspects, such as limited access to quality healthcare are integral factors,” explained Albert.
Heart failure, stroke, coronary heart disease, and hypertension/excessive blood pressure are all symptoms of cardiovascular disease. Atherosclerosis of the heart or clogged arteries are indications of coronary heart disease and both can result in a heart attack.
Coronary heart disease also referred to as “heart disease,” is still the leading cause of death in the US. Stroke continues to be the fifth leading cause of mortality, after COVID-19, heart disease, cancer, and unintentional injuries/accidents.