According to a new statistical report from the American Heart Association, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States saw a sharp increase in the number of deaths from cardiovascular disease, with particularly high death rates among Asians, blacks and Hispanics.

The number of deaths related to cardiovascular disease jumped from 874,613 in 2019 to 928,741 in 2020, the largest one-year increase since 2015, according to the AHA’s updated 2023 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics , published Wednesday in Circulation. The number of deaths exceeded the previous high of 910,000 in 2003.

Cardiovascular disease includes heart disease, stroke, heart failure, and hypertension, or high blood pressure. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States and worldwide. In 2020, COVID-19 was also among the leading causes of death in the United States

“What may be even more telling is that our age-adjusted death rate increased for the first time in many years and by a fairly significant 4.6%,” said Dr. Connie W. Tsao, chair of the writing committee, in a press release. Cao is an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a visiting staff cardiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

“The age-adjusted death rate takes into account that there may be more elderly people in the general population from year to year, in which case one would expect a higher death rate among the elderly,” she said. “So even though our total number of deaths has slowly increased over the past decade, we’ve seen our age-adjusted rates decline every year until 2020.”

The appeal was not surprising in light of the enormous impact of COVID-19 on people of all ages, Cao said, “especially before vaccines to slow the spread.”

In Asian, black and Hispanic communities, the largest increases in cardiovascular disease mortality reflect the persistence of structural and social disparities, the report said.

“People of color have been among those most affected, especially early on, often because of a disproportionate burden of cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension and obesity,” AHA ​​President Dr. Michelle A. Albert said in a release. She is the Walter A. Haas-Lucy Stern Chair in Cardiology, Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and Dean of Admissions at the UCSF School of Medicine.

Updated statistics show how COVID-19 is affecting cardiovascular health, including its link to risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Factors such as obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure increase the risk of more severe disease from COVID-19.

“There are direct and indirect effects of COVID-19 on cardiovascular health,” Albert said. “As we learned, the virus often attacks the body’s circulatory system, causing new clotting and inflammation. We also know that many people who had new or existing heart disease and stroke symptoms were reluctant to seek medical care, especially in the early days of the pandemic. This has resulted in people requiring more acute or urgent treatment for chronic conditions that could have been managed. And sadly, it appears to have cost many lives.”

The report also highlights various gender, racial and ethnic disparities that surfaced during the study. But a special commentary by committee members writing the updated report notes that data is still lacking for some groups, such as LGBTQ people and those living in rural areas.

“We know that to address discrimination and disparities that affect health, we must better recognize and understand the unique experiences of individuals and populations,” Cao said.

This year’s statistical update includes data showing global and regional trends in mortality associated with various cardiovascular diagnoses and risk factors.

Globally, coronary heart disease, also known as coronary heart disease, and stroke are the two leading causes of cardiovascular disease-related death, with rates rising globally in all but two regions over the past decade, data show. – North America and Europe/Central Asia. In North America, the death rate from heart disease has declined in recent decades, from 28.2% of all deaths in 1990 to 18.7% in 2019. Stroke mortality has fallen from 7.3% of all deaths in 1990 to 6.4% in 2019.

In Europe and Central Asia, the death rate from heart disease fell from 27.2% of all deaths in 1990 to 24.4% in 2019, and the death rate from stroke fell from 15.1% to 12.5% ​​during this time.

“As the U.S. prepares to celebrate its 60th annual Heart Month in February, it is critical that we recognize and redouble the lifesaving progress we have made in nearly a century of research, advocacy, and education while continuing to identify and understand the barriers that still put some people at increased risk of cardiovascular disease,” Albert said.

If you have questions or comments about this news release from the American Heart Association, please email

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