HealthDay News — More patients are dying of heart disease and stroke worldwide than they were 25 years ago, results of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicate.

“Global deaths from cardiovascular disease are increasing as a result of population growth, the aging of populations, and epidemiologic changes in disease,” said Gregory Roth, MD, MPH, of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues.

“Disentangling the effects of these three drivers on trends in mortality is important for planning the future of the health care system and benchmarking progress toward the reduction of cardiovascular disease.”

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To determine the impact of an increasing and aging population on cardiovascular disease-related death from 1990 to 2013, the investigators examined data from a 2013 global analysis of disease statistics from 188 countries.

In 1990, 12.3 million people died worldwide of heart disease, a category defined to include conditions such as heart attacks, stroke, rheumatic heart disease, and aortic aneurysm, among others. The number grew to 17.3 million by 2013, an increase of 40%.

The study indicates that the increase is mostly due to the aging of the world’s population, although population growth is another major factor. The number of deaths only declined in Western Europe and Central Europe.  Death rates, however, by age, fell by 39% worldwide and countries that gained in wealth over the last 25 years didn’t necessarily see a corresponding boost in terms of risk of death from heart disease, noted the scientists.


  1. Roth G et al. N Engl J Med. 2015; doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1406656