CVD's impact varies according to age, gender, other factors

Cardiovascular disease deaths have declined in the last 25 years, but the effect of America's No. 1 killer varies greatly based on gender, age, location and type, according to a study reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers in Minnesota found:

  • Less improvement in cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality among women and the elderly.
  • A shift in the types of CVD deaths from coronary heart disease (CHD) to other forms of CVD.
  • Out-of hospital deaths have not dropped as much as in-hospital deaths.

"The face of CVD death is changing," said Veronique Roger, M.D., M.P.H., senior author of the study and professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minn. "Mortality trends should be examined according to age, gender and race as well as the types and location of CVD deaths."

Data conflicts on possible age and gender disparities in CVD mortality, and it is unclear whether the downward trend is consistent across hospitalized and non-hospitalized patients and among types of CVD deaths.

Researchers examined trends in CVD mortality in Olmsted County, Minn., between 1979 and 2003. They assessed variations in death rates by location of death -- in-hospital vs. out-of-hospital -- and by age, gender and specific CVD categories, such as CHD, heart failure, stroke or lymphatic vessel disorders.

The term CVD refers to any ailment of the heart or blood vessels and includes high blood pressure, CHD, heart failure, stroke and congenital defects. CHD refers to disease caused by atherosclerotic narrowing of arteries near or in the heart that often leads to a heart attack.

During the study, 6,378 CVD deaths were recorded in the county. Among the deaths, 57 percent were linked to CHD; 18 percent were from "non-CHD diseases of the heart," such as heart failure, pulmonary circulatory disease, and rheumatic fever; an

Contact: Karen Astle
American Heart Association

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