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Cardiovascular Disease Still Leading Cause of Death Worldwide

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 27, 2021 -- Heart disease remains the leading cause of death worldwide, with 18.6 million deaths attributed to cardiovascular disease (CVD) globally in 2019, according to a report from the American Heart Association published online Jan. 27 in Circulation.

Salim S. Virani, M.D., Ph.D., from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and colleagues provide the most up-to-date statistics for heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular risk factors that include core health behaviors and health factors that contribute to cardiovascular health.

According to the report, in 2019, about 18.6 million deaths were attributed to CVD globally, representing an increase of 17.1 percent from 2010. The crude prevalence of CVD was 523.2 million cases in 2019, representing a 26.6 percent increase compared with 2010. Based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2015 to 2018, the prevalence of CVD was 49.2 percent in adults 20 years and older and increased with age in men and women.

"The extraordinary circumstances of dealing with COVID-19 have changed the way we live, including adopting unhealthy behaviors that are known to increase the risk of heart disease and stroke," Virani said in a statement. "Unhealthy eating habits, increased consumption of alcohol, lack of physical activity and the mental toll of quarantine isolation and even fear of contracting the virus all can adversely impact a person's risk for cardiovascular health. We'll need to watch and address these trends as the full ramifications will likely be felt for many years to come."

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and other industries.

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