A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has found that projected rates of cardiovascular risk factors and disease will increase significantly in the United States by 2060, contributing to a rising burden on the U.S. health care system. According to the experts, there is an urgent need for equitable access to prevention education and treatments in order to prevent such future outcomes.
By using data from the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau report for the years 2025 to 2060, combined with the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors and disease based on the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the scientists evaluated future cardiovascular risk factors (including diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and obesity) and disease (heart attack, stroke, ischemic heart disease, and heart failure) in different groups, based on sex, age, and race/ethnicity.
The analysis revealed that all four risk factors are expected to increase from 2025 to 2060, with the largest percentage increase in diabetes (39.3 percent), followed by dyslipidemia (27.6), hypertension (25.1), and obesity (18.3). Stroke and heart failure are estimated to be the leading cardiovascular diseases (increasing by 33.8 and 33.4 percent, respectively), followed by ischemic heart disease (30.7), and heart attack (16.9).
While these problems will likely affect equally both genders, the researchers expect the cardiovascular risks to increase substantially for racial and ethnic minorities. “Our analysis projects that the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors and diseases will continue to rise with worrisome trends,” said study senior author James L. Januzzi Jr, a professor of Medicine at Harvard University.
“These striking projections will disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minority populations in the U.S. Understanding these results will hopefully inform future public health policy efforts and allow us to implement prevention and treatment measures in an equitable manner.”
The scientists emphasize the importance of preventive education regarding cardiovascular risk factors. Moreover, improving access to quality health care, facilitating lower-cost access to effective treatments, and dismantling broader systems that leave racial and ethnic minorities at higher risk are all crucial for reversing this worrisome trend.
“Ultimately, as prevention is imperative to tackle the future burden of cardiovascular disease, the results from this study pose an important challenge,” said study lead author Reza Mohebi, an expert in Cardiology at Harvard. “In order to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in the U.S. population, health care policymakers will need to allocate preventive measures and health care resources to the more vulnerable populations we projected to have higher percentage rise in disease,” he concluded.