Heart disease mortality rates rose during pandemic

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Death rates tied to heart disease and strokes increased significantly in the U.S. during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study published by JAMA Network on Wednesday.

The big picture: The overall mortality rates jumped nearly 16 percent between 2019 and 2020, which researchers largely attributed to the coronavirus, according to the study.

  • Heart disease mortality rates increased 4.3 percent and stroke mortality rates increased 6.4 percent in this timeframe, according to researchers.

What they’re saying: “The COVID-19 pandemic was associated with conditions that likely contributed to risk-associated increased HD and stroke mortality,” researchers stated.

  • “These conditions included periods of overcrowding of hospitals with patients who had COVID-19, resulting in fewer hospitalizations for acute cardiovascular problems, fewer visits for medical care, poorer medication adherence, and increased barriers to healthy lifestyle behaviors.”

Between the lines: Researchers also noted a correlation between mortality rates and racial disparities tied to risk-associated increases of heart disease and stroke.

  • “Risk-associated increases were highest in non-Hispanic Black individuals, followed by Hispanic individuals, non-Hispanic Asian or Pacific Islander individuals, and non-Hispanic White individuals, with a more than 5-fold higher percentage increase in non-Hispanic Black individuals compared with non-Hispanic White individuals for [heart disease] and a 2-fold higher percent increase for stroke,” the study stated.

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