Deaths from heart disease increased during the COVID-19 pandemic: study

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During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of deaths from cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the US increased by 6.2%. The number of CVD-related deaths increased from 874,613 in 2019 to 928,741 in 2020, marking the largest annual increase since 2015 and surpassing the previous peak of 910,000 in 2003.

The age-adjusted death rate accounts for the possibility that the population as a whole will age year by year, in which case older people are expected to die at higher rates, said Connie W. Tsao, an assistant professor in the College of of Harvard Medicine. .

The fact that the age-adjusted mortality rate has increased for the first time in many years and by a very significant 4.6% may be even more surprising than the fact that the total number of CVD-related deaths increased from 2019 to 2020, Tsao said.

Through 2020, the age-adjusted rates have decreased each year, even though the overall mortality rate has been gradually increasing over the past 10 years. Given that the COVID-19 epidemic affected people of all ages, particularly before vaccines were available to stop the spread, that’s a pretty good representation of what’s been happening in our nation and around the world, he added. .

The largest increases in the total number of CVD-related deaths were seen among Asian, Black, and Hispanic people, the populations hardest hit in the early days of the pandemic, and which focused on growing structural and social disparities.

Both the direct and indirect effects of COVID-19 are felt in cardiovascular health, said Michelle A. Albert, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). The virus is linked to new clots and inflammation. Many people with heart disease and stroke symptoms, whether new or existing, were hesitant to seek medical care, especially in the early stages of the pandemic, she added.

It led to people developing more severe cardiovascular disease and requiring more urgent or acute care for conditions that may have been chronic but controlled. Unfortunately, it also appears to have claimed many lives, Albert said.

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