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New Study Trying To Warn Us About The Future Of Heart Disease – It’s Worth Noting

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An analysis published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology predicts that the number of cardiovascular risk factors and diseases will rise significantly in the United States by the year 2060.

Significant increases in cardiovascular trends may add to a growing burden on the U.S. health care system and show how important it is for everyone to have equal access to education and treatments for disease prevention now to keep people from getting sick in the future.

The researchers analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 report for the years 2025 to 2060 and merged it with data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey regarding the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors or disease.

From these estimates, the researchers looked at cardiovascular risk factors and diseases in groups based on gender (male and female), age (18-44 years, 45-64 years, 67-79 years, and over 80 years), race and ethnicity (Asian, Black, Hispanic, White and other), and age.

The researchers examined expected rates for the cardiovascular risk variables diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and obesity, as well as the cardiovascular illnesses ischemic heart disease, heart failure, heart attack, and stroke.

All four CV risk factors are projected to increase in the general U.S. population between 2025 and 2060, with diabetes showing the largest percentage increase (39.3 percent to 55 million people), followed by dyslipidemia (27.6 percent to 126M), hypertension (25.1% to 162M), and obesity (18.3 percent to 126M).

The researchers discovered that stroke (33.8 percent to 15 million) and heart failure (33.4 percent to 13 million) had the biggest expected increases in cardiovascular disease rates, followed by ischemic heart disease (30.7 percent to 29 million) and heart attack (16.9 percent to 16M).

With the exception of obesity, where women are forecast to continue to have a higher prevalence than men, projections for CV risk factors or diseases from 2025 to 2060 are likely to be stable for both genders and across age groups.

However, all estimates for minority racial and ethnic groupings increased dramatically, whereas projections for White people fell progressively.

The Black population is expected to have the highest burden of CV risk factors among all racial and ethnic groups. Additionally, it is anticipated that the Black and Hispanic populations will be most affected by increases in CVD rates.

According to James L. Januzzi Jr., senior author of the study, “Our analysis projects that the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors and diseases will continue to rise with worrisome trends.” 

“These striking projections will disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minority populations in the U.S. Understanding these results will hopefully inform future public health policy efforts and allow us to implement prevention and treatment measures in an equitable manner.”

To stop the rising number of people with CVD who are at risk, the researchers suggest putting more focus on education about CVD risk factors, improving access to quality health care, and making it easier for people to get effective treatments at lower costs.

Additionally, health policies must be created to expand access to care for historically underserved groups, adopt specialized preventive measures, and dismantle larger institutions that leave racial and ethnic minorities with subpar healthcare.

Reza Mohebi, the study’s primary author, noted that the study’s findings ultimately represent a significant issue because prevention is crucial to reducing the burden of cardiovascular disease in the future. 

“In order to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in the U.S. population, health care policymakers will need to allocate preventive measures and health care resources to the more vulnerable populations we projected to have higher percentage rise in disease.”

“Despite that several assumptions underlie these projections, the importance of this work cannot be overestimated,” adds Andreas Kalogeropoulos, author of the accompanying editorial comment.

“The absolute numbers are staggering and suggest that by year 2060, compared to 2025, the numbers of people, particularly minorities, with CV risk factors are expected to increase dramatically. Unless targeted action is taken, disparities in the burden of cardiovascular disease are only going to be exacerbated over time.”

The study has significant limitations, including using future risk factor patterns to predict future CV illness. The estimates or probable long-term effects of COVID-19 on the cardiovascular system were not taken into account by the study’s authors. Finally, self-report was used to define CVDs.

Image Credit: Getty

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