Death rates from heart disease, strokes rise during pandemic


During the first year of the pandemic, death rates for heart disease and strokes increased, with researchers noting racial disparities between mortality rates, a new study published on Wednesday found.

A study published in the JAMA Network Open journal found that the overall mortality rate increased close to 16 percent between 2019 and 2020, which the researchers attributed mostly to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, researchers noted that rates of heart disease and stroke also ticked upward in that time frame, at 4.3 percent and 6.4 percent, respectively. 

The researchers noted that age-associated increases in heart disease and strokes deaths had been increasing prior to the pandemic and between 2019 and 2020, however they noted that risk-associated increases in both had increased during the first year of the pandemic, suggesting that the cause is related to risk-associated factors.

“The COVID-19 pandemic was associated with conditions that likely contributed to risk-associated increased HD and stroke mortality,” the study said. “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.”

The study also noted that there were prevalent racial and ethnic disparities when it came to risk-associated increases in heart disease and stroke mortality.

“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 said.

Tags COVID-19 heart disease Stroke
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