Deaths from Cardiovascular Disease on the Rise Worldwide

Despite a 39% decrease in age-specific mortality rates, deaths related to cardiovascular disease increased by 41% globally between 1990 and 2013.

Despite a 39% decrease in age-specific mortality rates, deaths related to cardiovascular disease (CVD) increased by 41% globally between 1990 and 2013.

Population growth, more individuals reaching old age, and epidemiological changes in disease contributed to this increase in CVD-related mortality, researchers posited in a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 provided researchers with mortality data from 188 countries categorized into 21 world regions. In addition to population, aging, and epidemiologic factors, the researchers also examined secular trends and national income.

The 41% increase in CVD-related deaths was attributed in part to a 55% increase in mortality due to the aging of populations and a 25% increase due to population growth.

Despite this global trend, the annual number of deaths from CVD declined in some regions. However, “only Central and Western Europe had gains in cardiovascular health that were sufficient to offset these demographic forces,” the study authors wrote.

The researchers credited improvements in death rates to prevention tactics, including efforts to reduce risk factors such as smoking.

The United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and southern Latin America did not record changes in the number of CVD-related deaths, which the researchers attributed to aging and population growth balancing out declines in age-specific death rates.

South Asia, on the other hand, saw a significant increase in deaths due to CVD when comparing rates in 1990 to those in 2013.

The researchers also discovered a weak link between changes in gross domestic product per capita and changes in age-specific death rates among upper-middle income countries.

“Addressing the range of factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease will help ensure that fewer people around the world die from it prematurely,” said study co-author Christopher Murray, MD, DPhil, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, in a press release. “Investments and policies aimed at targeting preventable risk factors can reduce the impact of cardiovascular disease.”