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Help Center
Help Center

COVID-19 Is Still Not The Leading Cause of Death Worldwide

Written by: Lydia Hooper

May 13, 2021

Heart Disease Data Story

Did you know COVID-19 is not the leading cause of death worldwide?

Heart disease remains the #1 cause of death worldwide, according to the American Heart Association.

Chances are you are taking some precautions due to COVID-19, but what can you do about heart disease?

Let’s take a look.

Heart disease is on the rise globally

In the past decade, cardiovascular disease cases and deaths worldwide have increased dramatically.

There were more than 523 million cases of cardiovascular disease globally in 2019, an increase of 26% compared with 413 million in 2010, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

Across the world, more than 18 million people died of cardiovascular disease in 2019, a 17% increase since 2010.

Heart Disease Data Story

Strokes, one type of cardiovascular disease, are the #5 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Strokes happen when a clot or rupture interrupts blood flow to the brain, causing brain cells to die.

In 2018, stroke accounted for about 1 of every 19 deaths in the U.S.

Heart Disease Data Story

Some people are at a greater risk of having a stroke

There are a number of factors that increase a person’s risk of having a stroke.

The likelihood of having a stroke increases with age, but anyone can have one, even babies and children.

Although men self-report more strokes than women according to the CDC, the AHA says that women have more strokes than men and stroke kills more women than men. Stroke risks are increased for women because of factors related to contraception, pregnancy, and hormone therapies.

Heart Disease Data Story

Race also plays a role. The risk of having a stroke is about twice as high for blacks as for whites. African Americans also have the highest rate of death due to stroke. This is partly because they have higher risks of related conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.

Heart Disease Data Story

And socioeconomics plays a part. People living on low incomes, who often are on Medicaid, are twice as likely to report a stroke as people with private health insurance, according to data collected by the CDC.

Heart Disease Data Story

History of heart attack or stroke, whether family history or personal history, also increases the risk of stroke, according to the AHA.

You can take action to prevent disease and disability

The good news is that the CDC says up to 80 percent of strokes may be preventable!

Anyone can have a stroke, and everyone should be prepared. It’s a matter of knowing what to do, taking action and spreading the word. The people with the highest risk of stroke are also the least knowledgeable about stroke warning signs and risk factors, according to a report from the CDC.

Time lost is brain lost. It’s important to get to a hospital within 60 minutes of the onset of symptoms to reduce the possibility of disability.

Remember the BE FAST warning signs:

  • Balance or coordination troubles
  • Eyesight suddenly lost
  • Face drooping, especially on one side
  • Arm or leg suddenly weak or numb
  • Speech or thinking difficulty
  • Time to call 911!

Heart Disease Data Story

The AHA also recommends following “Life’s Simple 7” to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases:

  1. Don’t smoke
  2. Be physically active
  3. Maintain a healthy body weight
  4. Control cholesterol
  5. Manage blood pressure
  6. Reduce blood sugar
  7. Eat a heart-healthy diet

While we may have little control over some risk factors, we can educate ourselves and be prepared.

Check out our full infographic about stroke prevention and consider sharing it with others!


About Lydia Hooper

Lydia Hooper has a decade of experience as an information designer, and has worked with and for more than 50 national, state, and local organizations. She led a team to win bronze in the national Civic Data Challenge in 2013. Her writing on data visualization and information design has also been published by Data Visualization Society, UX Collective, SAGE Publishing’s MethodSpace and Evergreen Data. Lydia has also designed and facilitated workshops for dozens of organizations including American Institute of Graphic Arts-Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Chapters of the Association for Talent Development and the Society for Technical Communication.