The prevalence of four major risk factors for cardiovascular disease is projected to soar in the United States from 2025 to 2060, according to a new study from the American College of Cardiology.

Analysts estimate a 39% increase in diabetes, a 28% increase in high cholesterol, a 25% increase in hypertension and an 18% increase in obesity during that time period. They also foresee a steep rise in common cardiovascular diseases. Stroke and heart failure will increase by 34% and 33%, respectively. And ischemic heart disease and heart attack are expected to follow, rising by 31% and 17%, they reported.

“Staggering” numbers  

“The absolute numbers are staggering,” said Andreas Kalogeropoulos, MD, PhD, in an editorial accompanying the published study. “Unless targeted action is taken, disparities in the burden of cardiovascular disease are only going to be exacerbated over time.”

The estimates are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. When broken down by sex, age group, and race and ethnicity, the projections become lopsided. For males overall, rates are expected to stabilize by 2060 when compared with females. But all projections for racial and ethnic minority groups showed an exponential rise, while those for white people gradually decreased.

Cardiovascular risk solutions

To counter and potentially change this bleak outlook, the researchers urge clinicians to increase patient education and outreach regarding cardiovascular risk factors. Solutions must also include improved access to quality healthcare, including lower costs for evidence-based treatments that can be accessed by historically neglected populations, they said.

“These striking projections will disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minority populations in the U.S,” said senior author and cardiologist James Januzzi Jr., MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. “Understanding these results will hopefully inform future public health policy efforts and allow us to implement prevention and treatment measures in an equitable manner.”

The analysis was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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