Harvard Heart Letter

Gloomy forecast on heart disease

Stepping up prevention efforts could brighten up predictions.

Baby boomers have been blamed for a litany of social woes, from the breakdown of the American family to global warming. The American Heart Association (AHA) adds another: sparking a huge increase in cardiovascular disease and health care costs over the coming decades. But this one boomers could walk away from — literally.

The baby boom began in 1946 and ended in 1964. By 2030, anyone born during that period will be ages 65 and older, the key years for cardiovascular disease to blossom. (We use the term "cardiovascular disease" to cover a range of heart and artery conditions, including heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and peripheral artery disease, among others.)

In a report, the AHA offers a gloomy forecast for cardiovascular disease in 2030: high blood pressure, up 10%; heart disease, up 17%; heart failure and stroke, each up 25%. If the projections are accurate, today's 81 million American adults with cardio vascular disease will swell to 110 million by 2030; the cost of treating them will balloon to $818 billion.

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