Rates for Some Types of Heart Disease Deaths Dropped

Deaths from heart disease decreased overall but deaths from two particular types of heart disease increased slightly

(RxWiki News) In recent years, death rates from most types of heart disease dropped. But a few types saw an increase in the death rate.

The authors of this new study also found that deaths increased from two types of heart disease — one that results from high blood pressure and another caused by irregular heart rhythms. 

The researchers found that overall deaths from heart disease decreased by 3.8 percent during the 10-year study period. Deaths from coronary heart disease decreased by 5.1 percent.

Matthew D. Ritchey, DPT, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, and colleagues wrote the study.

The group used data from the CDC WONDER database to study deaths from heart disease. The WONDER database contains death certificate information from every US state and the District of Columbia.

Dr. Ritchey and team looked at data on US residents older than 35 and categorized deaths from heart disease during the period from 2000 to 2010. According to data from the WONDER database, 7,102,778 US patients died from some form of heart disease between 2000 and 2010.

The researchers grouped the data according to the underlying cause of death. They separated the heart disease deaths into the following categories:

  • Coronary heart disease, which affects the arteries of the heart
  • Heart failure, which results when the heart becomes too weak to pump blood
  • Hypertensive heart disease, which results from chronic high blood pressure
  • Valvular heart disease, which results when the valves of the heart are weak or fail to close properly
  • Arrhythmia, which is an irregular heartbeat
  • Pulmonary heart disease, in which the right side of the heart becomes distended and weak because of high blood pressure in the lungs

Deaths for most other types of heart disease also decreased — although not as significantly as those for the first two categories. However, deaths from hypertensive heart disease increased by 1.3 percent. Deaths from arrhythmia increased by 1 percent.

Dr. Ritchey and team noted that death rates differed by age and race. Blacks, for instance, were more likely than other groups to die of hypertensive heart disease. The death rate from hypertensive heart disease in 2010 was almost three times higher for blacks than for whites.

Hypertensive heart disease was also the leading cause of death for adults ages 35 to 54 and 55 to 74 — although the rates were different for the two age groups. The death rate for those aged 35 to 54 was 12.1 percent. The death rate in the 55-to-74 age group was 6.7 percent.

Heart failure was the most common cause of death in those aged 75 or older — at 12.2 percent.

“Uncontrolled blood pressure and obesity among younger adults, especially non-Hispanic blacks, may be putting them at risk for developing [hypertensive heart disease] at an early age," Dr. Ritchey and team wrote. They added that “These increases might be linked to an aging population, the [fact that people are] living longer with heart failure, increases in chronic kidney disease and [hypertensive heart disease] prevalence, and possible changes in how arrhythmias are diagnosed and reported on death certificates.”

The authors cautioned that data from death certificates alone may overestimate heart disease rates. This data is, however, often used for research purposes.

This study was published online Nov. 16 in JAMA.

The CDC funded the study. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
November 15, 2014