Cardiovascular Disease

Race and Cardiovascular Health

CVD Race Disparities

Two Circulation-published papers revealed considerable gaps in cardiovascular mortality between Black and White adults, despite improving trends overall. 

Authors of one paper analyzed CDC data from the past two decades and found that CVD-linked deaths dropped among both Black and White adults. Over the twenty-year period, mortality rates declined by:  

  • 42% for Black women (602 to 352 per 100,000 people).
  • 41% for White women (447 to 268 per 100,000 people).
  • 36% for Black men (824 to 527 per 100,000 people).
  • 38% for White men (638 to 396 per 100,000 people).

Despite this progress, the death rate for Black adults was still disproportionately high. In 2019, the mortality rate exceeded that of their White counterparts by 30-40%. Disparities were greatest in rural or segregated areas. 

Younger Black women (<65 years) were over twice as likely as younger White women to die of cardiovascular causes. The authors note that this parallels well-documented racial disparities in maternal health outcomes, for which CVD is the leading cause of death in the US. 

A second Circulation paper detailed similar trends and directly tied the rate differences to individuals’ socioeconomic status. When researchers analyzed CVD mortality data from nearly 7,000 adults over 15 years, they found that Black participants had a 34% greater risk of death than their White peers.

Common social determinants of health– such as income, education, access to care, and neighborhood wealth– served as independent predictors for death. 

The Takeaway

Cardiovascular mortality rates across the US have shown encouraging declines, but Black adults still face a much greater risk. Both papers emphasized the need for coordinated initiatives focused on disease screening, prevention, and treatment in Black communities. 

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