The good news: The rate of adult deaths in the U.S. has dropped since 1999. The bad? The number dying from heart disease has risen again, after falling between 1999 and 2011.
A new study by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics examined death certificate information of adults ages 45 to 64 from all 50 states between 1999 and 2017.
Researchers found that the cancer death rate for adults aged 45 to 64 declined 19% from 1999 to 2017. That represents a drop from 224.9 to 182.6 deaths per 100,000.
The heart disease death rate for adults aged 45 to 64 declined 22% between 1999 and 2011, from 164.3 to 127.9 per 100,000. Over the next six years, it increased 4%, to 133.6 per 100,000 in 2017. (The rate among men increased 3% between 2011 and 2017; for women, the increase was 7%.)
Non-Hispanic white women had the greatest percentage of heart disease increase of all groups, at 12%. (Hispanic women experienced general declines in heart disease over the entire period of the study.)
Deaths from cancer remained higher than those from heart disease — 37% higher in 2017.
The study was published in National Vital Statistics Report last week.
According to the study, cancer and heart disease are the two leading causes of death for middle-aged adults aged 45 to 64, comprising 50% of all deaths in this age range. Similar unhealthy lifestyle choices can contribute to both, and their interrelationship is something researchers will continue to study.
Dr. Mariell Jessup, chief science and medical officer at the American Heart Association, told CNN the jump in heart-disease deaths “has to do with obesity, a lack of a healthy lifestyle and really the increasing incidence and prevalence of hypertension.
“The good news about cardiovascular disease and stroke is that 90% of cardiovascular disease is preventable,” she said.