Study: Little Improvement in Heart Disease Death Rates Among Young Adults

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Heart Disease According to new research published in Circulation, while deaths from heart disease have declined for older adults between 1979 and 2011, the improvement rate slowed for adults under the age of 55 during that time period.

Researchers calculated the annual changes in heart disease death rates for three separate periods: 1979–1989, 1990–1999, and 2000–2011.

Mortality data was collected for individuals aged 25 and older in the U.S. during each time period from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Compressed Mortality File of U.S. National Vital Statistics.

Between 1979 and 1989, there was a clear decline in annual death rates for adults under the age of 55; death rates fell by 5.5% in men and 4.6% in women. This rate slowed in the two following time periods studied. From 1990 to 1999, there was no improvement in heart disease death rates for women under the age of 55. For men in this time period, death rates fell by 1.2%. For the 2000–2011 time period, heart disease death rates improved—but only slightly. For women, the death rate fell by 1.0% and for men, it fell by 1.8%.

In comparison, heart disease death rates for adults aged 65 and over fell consistently from 1979 onward.

Dr. Viola Vaccarino, the study’s senior author, believes that non-traditional risk factors are important for younger age groups: “For example, in other research we and others have done, factors such as stress and depression are particularly common among young women with early-onset heart disease, and are powerful predictors of heart disease or its progression in this group.”

Sources for Today’s Article:
Vaccarino, V., et al., “Coronary heart disease mortality declines in the United States from 1979 through 2011: evidence for stagnation in young adults, especially women,” Circulation 2015, doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.115.015293.
McIntosh, J., “Heart disease deaths ‘only slightly improved’ in young adults over past 3 decades,” Medical News Today web site, August 25, 2015;