A new analysis projects steep increases by 2060 in the prevalence of cardiovascular (CV) risk factors and disease that will disproportionately affect non-White populations who have limited access to health care.
The study by Reza Mohebi, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, both in Boston, and colleagues was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
“Even though several assumptions underlie these projections, the importance of this work cannot be overestimated,” Andreas P. Kalogeropoulos, MD, MPH, PhD, and Javed Butler, MD, MPH, MBA, wrote in an accompanying editorial. “The absolute numbers are staggering.”
From 2025 to 2060, the number of people with any one of four CV risk factors – type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and obesity – is projected to increase by 15.4 million, to 34.7 million.
And the number of people with of any one of four CV disease types – ischemic heart disease, heart failure, MI, and stroke – is projected to increase by 3.2 million, to 6.8 million.
Although the model predicts that the prevalence of CV risk factors will gradually decrease among White Americans, the highest prevalence of CV risk factors will be among the White population because of its overall size.
Conversely, the projected prevalence of CV risk factors is expected to increase in Black, Hispanic, Asian, and other race/ethnicity populations.
In parallel, the prevalence of CV disease is projected to decrease in the White population and increase among all other race/ethnicities, particularly in the Black and Hispanic populations.
“Our results project a worrisome increase with a particularly ominous increase in risk factors and disease in our most vulnerable patients, including Blacks and Hispanics,” senior author James L. Januzzi Jr., MD, summarized in a video issued by the society.
“The steep rise in CV risk factors and disease reflects the generally higher prevalence in populations projected to increase in the United States, owing to immigration and growth, including Black or Hispanic individuals,” Dr. Januzzi, also from Massachusetts General and Harvard, said in an interview.
“The disproportionate size of the risk is expected in a sense, as minority populations are disproportionately disadvantaged with respect to their health care,” he said. “But whether it is expected or not, the increase in projected prevalence is, nonetheless, concerning and a call to action.”
This study identifies “areas of opportunity for change in the U.S. health care system,” he continued. “Business as usual will result in us encountering a huge number of individuals with CV risk factors and diseases.”
The results from the current analysis assume there will be no modification in health care policies or changes in access to care for at-risk populations, Dr. Mohebi and colleagues noted.
To “stem the rising tide of CV disease in at-risk individuals,” would require strategies such as “emphasis on education regarding CV risk factors, improving access to quality healthcare, and facilitating lower-cost access to effective therapies for treatment of CV risk factors,” according to the researchers.
“Such advances need to be applied in a more equitable way throughout the United States, however,” they cautioned.