THURSDAY, Feb. 25, 2021 (HealthDay News) — For women aged younger than 65 years, the mortality gap between cancer and heart disease is narrowing, according to a study published online Feb. 8 in the European Heart Journal: Quality of Care & Clinical Outcomes.

Safi U. Khan, M.B.B.S., from West Virginia University in Morgantown, and colleagues compared premature heart disease- and cancer-related deaths in women aged younger than 65 years in the United States. The annual percentage changes (APCs) in age-adjusted mortality rates (AAMRs) and years of potential life lost per 100,000 persons were compared.

The researchers found that cancer was a more prevalent cause of premature death than heart disease overall. Between 1999 and 2018, there were decreases in the AAMRs for both cancer (61.9 to 45.6 per 100,000) and heart disease (29.2 to 22.6 per 100,000). The APC in AAMR for cancer decreased consistently over time, while for heart disease, the APC in AAMR declined initially but increased between 2010 and 2018 (0.53), with significant increases in the Midwest, medium/small metros, and rural areas after 2008. The APC in AAMR for heart disease increased in women aged 25 to 34 years (2.24) and 55 to 64 years (0.46) compared with cancer. There was a narrowing in the mortality gap observed between cancer and heart disease, from 32.7 to 23.0 per 100,000.

“If extreme public health measures are not taken to mitigate cardiovascular risk factors, focusing on high-risk groups, heart disease mortality may supersede cancer to become the leading cause of death in young women,” the authors write.

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