While deaths from heart disease have declined quickly and consistently among older adults over the last 3 decades, the same cannot be said for young adults, according to the findings of a new study.
The research, published in Circulation, examines heart disease death rates from 1979-2011, revealing that improvement slowed for adults under the age of 55 - especially among women.
"We think that these trends are not related to differences in treatment and hospitalization, but rather to a lack of effective preventive strategies for young people, particularly women," says senior author Dr. Viola Vaccarino, professor and chair of epidemiology at Emory University in Atlanta, GA.
For the study, the researchers calculated the yearly changes in heart disease death rates for three separate time periods: 1979-1989, 1990-1999 and 2000-2011.
Mortality data were obtained for all individuals aged 25 years and older in the US during these periods from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Compressed Mortality File of US National Vital Statistics.
Among adults under the age of 55, clear declines in annual death rates were observed between 1979-1989 for adults under the age of 55, with death rates falling by 5.5% in men and 4.6% in women. However, the rate of this improvement slowed dramatically in subsequent time periods.
From 1990-1999, no improvement in heart disease death rates was observed among women under the age of 55. For men, death rates only fell by 1.2% during this time.
Heart disease death rates improved from 2000-2011, but only slightly. For women, the death rate fell by 1% and for men it fell by 1.8%