The new projections are based on data from the US Census Bureau for 2020 along with data for heart disease and risk factors from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Among the general population in the United States, cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity are expected to increase significantly between 2025 and 2060.
An additional 55 million Americans are expected to have diabetes and 126 million Americans are expected to suffer from mania by 2060. The researchers also predict that rates of stroke and heart failure will rise by more than 33 percent each – affecting 28 million Americans together.
Worse, this rise is expected to disproportionately affect all minorities – with black and Hispanic populations bearing the brunt of these increases in cardiovascular risk while rates are generally lower for white people. For example, the study found that the number of black adults with diabetes will jump from 13 percent currently to 20 percent by 2060. Nearly 60 percent have high blood pressure, a jump from 55 percent now.
This is especially shocking given the fact that advances in medicine should prevent such increases. But according to the study’s authors, the issue is systemic: minority groups are often overlooked and neglected when it comes to health policy. Factors such as food deserts, lack of access to medical services, and income inequality in black and brown communities contribute to widening public health disparities. This is also supported by previous research that found that a chronic lack of healthy food leads to higher rates of diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. The researchers say the findings identify clear disparities in the US health care system and are a call to action to fix them.
“Our analyzes indicate that the prevalence of CVD risk factors will continue to rise with worrying trends,” James L. Ganuzzi, Jr., a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and co-author of the study, said in a news release. “These stunning predictions will disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minorities in the United States. We hope that understanding these findings will inform future public health policy efforts and allow us to implement prevention and treatment measures in an equitable manner.”
Fixing this disparity will require health education and more equitable treatment for the at-risk population. Januzzi Jr. and colleagues argue that health policies and regulations will need to be leveraged to focus specifically on the impact of cardiovascular disease on minority communities.
So, while it’s shocking, it’s important to remember that the study is a look at what may be It happens if we don’t take action. If our history of tackling climate change and environmental issues is any indication, we unfortunately won’t be holding our breath.