COVID pandemic caused cardiovascular deaths to rise sharply

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A recent report by the American Heart Association published in the journal Circulation reported the updated statistics on the major circulatory and cardiovascular diseases, and their outcomes for 2023, with additional insights into the trends in heart disease during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2023 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association. Image Credit: Kateryna Kon / ShutterstockHeart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2023 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association. Image Credit: Kateryna Kon / Shutterstock


The annual report by the American Heart Association in association with other government agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, presents the most recent statistics on cardiovascular disease risk factors relating to the American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential Eight, which comprises health behaviors such as diet, physical activity, weight, and smoking, and other contributive health factors such as cholesterol, glucose levels, and blood pressure. This report is an essential resource for healthcare professionals and policymakers, health advocates, researchers, and the general public seeking updated and reliable information on cardiovascular health.

Major findings

The American Heart Association report indicated that cardiovascular diseases accounted for 928,713 deaths in 2020, with 580,994 below the age of 85. The proportion of male and female mortalities was approximately similar. The mortalities due to heart disease in 2020 were 696,937, with more than 400,000 cases in individuals below the age of 85.

Between 2013 and 2020, the overall cardiovascular health scores based on the Life’s Essential eight components were 73.6 for children in the United States (U.S.) between the ages of 16 and 19, and 65.2 for adults. Increased cardiovascular health scores were associated with an increase in life expectancy by 5.5 years for males and 4.2 years for females. However, the average life expectancy at birth decreased from 78.8 years to 77 years between 2019 and 2020 due to the over one million COVID-19-related deaths. The cumulative COVID-19-related mortality rate was approximately 292 per 100,000 people in metropolitan areas and 392 per 100,000 people in non-metropolitan areas in the U.S.

While on average, cigarette use had declined among the youth and adult populations in the U.S., 2020 saw a higher prevalence of tobacco use among the Alaskan Native, American Indian, gay, lesbian, and bisexual adults as compared to White and heterosexual adults. The report also indicated that in 2019 and 2020, only 20.6% of youths between the ages of 6 and 17 were active for more than 60 minutes per day. According to the self-reported statistics in 2018, 54.2% of adults achieved the physical activity guidelines of more than 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or more than 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week.

According to the Life Essential scores, diet or nutrition was one of the four areas with the lowest scores, ranging between 23.8 and 47.7 across different demographic groups. Among children between the ages of two and five and between 12 and 19 years, the diet scores were 61.1 and 28.5, respectively. However, the prevalence of being overweight was 36.8%, and obesity was prevalent in 19.8% of U.S. adolescents and children between the ages of two and 19. The highest prevalence was observed among Hispanic male and non-Hispanic Black female youth. Among adults above the age of 20, the prevalence of being overweight or obese was 71.2% and 41.4%, respectively.

Between 2017 and 2020, increased low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels occurred in 5% of adolescent males and 4.6% of adolescent females, while among adults, 25.6% of males and 25.4% of females had high levels of LDL-C. In addition, among U.S. adults above the age of 20, hypertension was prevalent in 50.4% of males and 43% of females, translating to 122.4 million adults with high blood pressure in the U.S. between 2017 and 2020.

Additionally, based on 2017–2020 data, close to 29.3 million adults were diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S. Peripheral artery disease was seen to be the most common (16.2%) and early diabetes-related cardiovascular complication, followed by heart failure (14.1%), angina (11.9%), non-fatal myocardial infarction (11.5%), and stroke (10.3%).

The prevalence of cardiovascular diseases comprising coronary heart disease, heart failure, hypertension, and stroke among U.S. adults above the age of 20 between 2017 and 2020 was 48.6%. The 2020 mortality data suggested that heart disease and stroke caused more deaths than lower respiratory diseases and cancer. The global mortality rates for cardiovascular diseases saw an 18.71% increase between 2010 and 2020.


Overall, the comprehensive report by the American Heart Association with the updated statistics on heart disease and stroke is a detailed resource for healthcare professionals, policymakers, researchers, and interested citizens on a wide range of cardiovascular disease prevalence and mortality rates, risk factors, associated outcomes, as well as other serious health conditions such as renal and metabolic diseases.

Journal reference:
Dr. Chinta Sidharthan

Written by

Dr. Chinta Sidharthan

Chinta Sidharthan is a writer based in Bangalore, India. Her academic background is in evolutionary biology and genetics, and she has extensive experience in scientific research, teaching, science writing, and herpetology. Chinta holds a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the Indian Institute of Science and is passionate about science education, writing, animals, wildlife, and conservation. For her doctoral research, she explored the origins and diversification of blindsnakes in India, as a part of which she did extensive fieldwork in the jungles of southern India. She has received the Canadian Governor General’s bronze medal and Bangalore University gold medal for academic excellence and published her research in high-impact journals.


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  1. Bob Clark Bob Clark United States says:

    There's a key word missing from this discussion... intentionally, I'm sure: "vaccine"! My diagnosed heart disease came "after" receiving the vaccination... and we'll before I ever contracted covid!

  2. Edgar Mitchell Edgar Mitchell Canada says:

    You make no mention of the Covid Vaccine, which we all know causes heart problems, and likely is the cause of most of the heart problems in This study. We all have an obligation to be truthful and we have the opportunity for a major study of all health issues between the vaxed and unvaxed. There is a large control group out there of unvaxed individuals, millions of them, and the comparison data should be followed, studied and reported for the next 10 years. And that does not just include the covid vaccine, but all vaccines. If the study won't be done, it begs the questions, What are they hiding and what are they afraid of? It's time to lay out the truth. That truthful process starts with you publishing this comment, in its entirety.

  3. Todd Painton, MD Todd Painton, MD United States says:

    By neglecting to even CONSIDER the vaccine as a cause, they demonstrate willful ignorance.  Here's an idea, split all cardiac events between, vaccinated, vaccinated and boosted, unvaccinated.  We KNOW the vaccine affects the heart.  By failing to even consider it, they are either terrible scientists, or propagandists.  This study should have been performed already but hasn't?  Why is that?  We all have hypotheses.  Given Primum non Nocera, shouldn't we test them instead of assuming?

    We really have entered the New Dark Ages..

  4. D L D L Canada says:

    No one died before the vaccines. Not only should the study compare to the unvaccinated, it should compare to the time before the shots were available. When the only extra deaths for heart complications were clearly due to lack of medical attention of the comorbid caused by specialists being closed to patients to make room for COVID. And the majority of  COVID deaths at the time were the people treated with the experimental Wuhan and German study ending in a question mark of 2019, " how to treat COVID in pneumonia patients ?" Not one person that I knew of or heard of had their pneumonia treated or even tested in anyway. They were all sent away without treatment and if they came back they got vented and died. Except one. But they accidentally caused an infection in that person's throat from rough care on her trach so they had to give her antibiotics. Boom 3 days later she was cured after 68 days of vents which nearly killed her like everyone else in the ward. COVID units. Where people went to die of COVID. The lucky survivors are blessed if they can even walk after laying there so long or if they can even begin to recover their organs from the damage of all the gen anasthetic and ketamine thats been administered to them Frown

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