Emory University | Woodruff Health Sciences Center
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Black-white heart disease mortality gap has increased

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Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for one in four deaths in 2015. Although heart disease death rates have decreased 68 percent from 1968 to 2015, those rates fell more steeply for whites than for blacks, resulting in increased disparities. Miriam Van Dyke 15MPH, doctoral student in epidemiology, and Dr. Michael Kramer, associate professor in epidemiology, analyzed data from the National Vital Statistics System and published their findings in the March 30, 2018 issue of MMWR.

Heart disease death rates for blacks and whites were similar at the start of the study period but began to diverge in the late 1970s, when rates for blacks plateaued while rates for whites continued to decrease. The biggest surge in disparities occurred in the 1970s and 1980s, followed by a slow but steady increase until 2005. Since 2005, the black-white disparity in heart disease death rates has modestly narrowed. In 2015, heart disease mortality rates were 21 percent higher among blacks than among whites.

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