As February is American Heart Month in the US, GlobalData epidemiologists are highlighting findings from a nationwide study on premature heart disease and cancer-related deaths in young women, published mid-February in the ‘European Heart Journal – Quality of Care and Clinical Outcomes by Khan and colleagues.

Study findings reveal that while cancer death rates in women have consistently declined each year during the study period, heart disease death rates have been rising since 2010. As a result of the increase in heart disease deaths in young women, GlobalData epidemiologists expect to observe a decrease in the diagnosed prevalence of major cardiovascular diseases in young women, such as heart failure and acute ischemic stroke (AIS), over the next five-ten years.

In the study by Khan and colleagues, data were analyzed using the US national database of death certificates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between 1999 and 2018 in women less than 65 years of age. According to the study, cardiovascular deaths increased from 22.2 deaths per 100,000 women in 2010 to 22.6 deaths per 100,000 women in 2018. While this increase may appear insignificant, the general increasing trend over the past nine years is concerning, with the highest death rate occurring in 2016 at 23 deaths per 100,000 women.

If this increasing trend continues, GlobalData epidemiologists expect the diagnosed prevalence of AIS and heart failure in women under 65 years of age to decrease, assuming that incidence remains stable. This is because the number of women living with the disease would decrease due to the increase in deaths. As such, GlobalData epidemiologists predict that the diagnosed prevalence of AIS and heart failure in women ages 18–64 years will likely dip below the current forecast estimates to 2027, which have remained relatively stable over the past ten years (as shown in Figure 1).

To reverse this trend, interventions must begin now. The study conducted by Khan and colleagues raises major concerns for an underestimated at-risk population. One main factor likely contributing to the increasing trend in cardiovascular risk factors and mortality is that women frequently put other’s needs before their own, often balancing caring for children or parents and working full-time. More research should be conducted to support, elaborate on, and replicate these findings in order to come up with a targeted and actionable plan to mitigate the rise in cardiovascular deaths in young women.