Nearly half of the U.S. adult population has some form of cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to an update to the American Heart Association’s Heart and Stroke Statistics.
The 2019 Update, published in Circulation, saw a significant increase in the prevalence of cardiovascular disease, driven primarily by a new definition of hypertension (130/80 mm Hg). The report showed that deaths from CVD are on the rise (increased from 836,546 in 2015 to 840,678 in 2016), despite a decrease in deaths from CVD worldwide.
The Update included several conditions in the definition of CVD, including coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, and hypertension. According to the Update, the NHANES data from 2013 to 2016, the prevalence of CVD was 48.0% overall (121.5 million in 2016), and CVD increases with age. Without the inclusion of hypertension as part of the definition of CVD (coronary heart disease, stroke, and heart failure only), the overall prevalence of CVD was 9.0%.
“As one of the most common and dangerous risk factors for heart disease and stroke, this overwhelming presence of high blood pressure can’t be dismissed from the equation in our fight against cardiovascular disease,” said Ivor J. Benjamin, MD, volunteer president of the AHA and director of the Cardiovascular Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, said in a press release. “Research has shown that eliminating high blood pressure could have a larger impact on CVD deaths than the elimination of all other risk factors among women and all except smoking among men.”
Other significant data reported in the Update included a reduction in smoking and increase in physical activity among adults (even as obesity and youth obesity remained at high levels overall). According to the data, 79% of adults were nonsmokers in 2016, which was up from 73% in 2015.