US death rates from heart disease, diabetes see largest increases in more than 20 years

U.S. death rates in 2020 for heart disease and diabetes tracked their highest increases in more than 20 years amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Associated Press reported that the rate of heart disease deaths, which has been on the decline long-term, jumped by more than 3 percent, increasing from 161.5 deaths per 100,000 population in 2019 to 167 deaths per 100,000, according to new CDC data.

In raw numbers, according to the AP, that spike is equivalent to 32,000 more heart disease deaths in 2020 than in 2019.

The death rate for diabetes tracked a 14 percent increase, climbing from 21.6 deaths per 100,000 in 2019 to 24.6 per the same population last year, amounting to 13,000 more diabetes deaths last year than the previous year.

Other increases: Death rates jumped by 8 percent for Alzheimer’s, 11 percent for Parkinson’s, 12 percent for high blood pressure and 4 percent for strokes.

Experts’ take: Experts are now saying that the spike in death rates for non-coronavirus diseases may be attributed to people not wanting to visit hospitals, despite experiencing dangerous symptoms, amid the pandemic out of fear of contracting the virus, the AP reported.

Another potential theory for the spike in death rates for these diseases is because some patients may have stopped taking care of themselves during COVID-19 lockdowns, including exercising less, gaining weight or cutting back on high blood pressure medications.