Why 61% of U.S. adults could have cardiovascular disease by 2050

Research from the American Heart Association shows diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure increases will contribute to rise

Cardiovascular disease kills more people worldwide than anything else, and 6 in 10 U.S. adults will develop it by 2050. That’s 184 million people, and scientists have predicted similar trends among children.

From the prevalence of hypertension to the silver tsunami, the American Heart Association reported that new research sheds light on what is putting America’s heart health at risk.

“The landscape of cardiovascular disease in the U.S. is seeing the arrival of a near-perfect storm,” Dr. Dhruv S. Kazi said in a news release. Kazi is head of health economics and associate director of the Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Center for Outcomes Research in Cardiology, and director of the cardiac critical care unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Worsening the storm, cardiovascular disease is anticipated to cost the U.S. $1.8 trillion within the next 26 years — nearly tripling its financial burden on the country.

“The last decade has seen a surge of cardiovascular risk factors such as uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, each of which raises the risks of developing heart disease and stroke,” Kazi said. “It is not surprising that an enormous increase in cardiovascular risk factors and diseases will produce a substantial economic burden.”

From 2020 to 2050, according to a new study from the American Heart Association journal Circulation, the prevalence of numerous heart health risk factors will be on the rise. Hypertension among adults will increase from 51.2% to 61%; diabetes will rise from 16.3% to 26.8%; and obesity will increase from 43.1% to 60.6%.

The researchers determined that inadequate sleep will also become more widespread through the years. Coronary disease will be up from 7.8% to 9.2%, heart failure from 2.7% to 3.8%, stroke from 3.9% to 6.4%. atrial fibrillation from 1.7% to 2.4%, and total cardiovascular disease will rise from 11.3% to 15.0%.

Another major factor is the silver tsunami, a massive wave of older adults turning 65 in America. According to a recent study by Northwestern Mutual, 11,000 people will turn 65 every day through at least 2027.

“The last of the Baby Boomers will hit 65 in 2030, so about 1 in 5 people in the U.S. will be over 65, outnumbering children for the first time in U.S. history,” Kazi said. “Since cardiovascular risk increases with age, the aging population increases the total burden of cardiovascular disease in the country.”