Heart attack deaths down in US: ‘We’re making progress in the right direction’

Michael Walter | February 27, 2023 | Acute Coronary Syndromes

Heart attack deaths in the United States have declined significantly in the last two decades. In addition, researchers noted, racial disparities in this area appear to be improving as well.

The full study is scheduled to be presented on March 5 at the American College of Cardiology’s upcoming annual meeting, ACC.23 Together with the World Congress of Cardiology, in New Orleans.

“It’s good news,” lead author Muchi Ditah Chobufo, MD, a cardiology fellow at West Virginia University, said in a prepared statement previewing the conference. “Researchers often highlight the bad news, but people should know that even if we’re not there yet, we’re making progress in the right direction. I think the reasons are multifactorial, spanning all the way from health-promoting and prevention activities through treatment during and after a heart attack.”

Chobufo et al. examined U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data from 1999 to 2020. Overall, the number of deaths attributed to acute myocardial infarctions (AMIs) fell from approximately 87 per 100,000 people in 1999 to approximately 38 per 100,000 in 2020. The improvement appears to be related to multiple factors, including shifts in patient care and more Americans recognizing the cardiovascular risks associated with different lifestyle choices.   

One key takeaway from the team’s analysis was that the gap in AMI mortality between white and Black patients appears to be decreasing. The number is still lower among white patients, but the gap is dwindling: the difference was 17 deaths per 100,000 people in 1999 and eight deaths per 100,000 people in 2020.

“For everyone involved in providing the best care to these patients, they should know that they’ve been doing a great job,” Chobufo said in the same statement. “But that doesn’t mean we can stop. Even one death is one too many, and even a disparity of one is a disparity of one too many. We can push even further and try to eliminate those gaps.”

When these findings are presented on March 5, they will also be simultaneously published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.