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PURPOSE: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality, affecting over 523 million people globally. Atherosclerotic diseases, particularly ischemic heart disease (IHD) and stroke, are the primary mediators of CVD burden and trends, with half of CVD deaths attributed to IHD, and another quarter to ischemic stroke. The aim of this review was to provide an overview of world-wide trends in the burden of atherosclerotic CVD. METHODS: A literature review of published studies reporting regional or global trends or burden of CVD was undertaken, with a specific focus on atherosclerotic-mediated CVDs. FINDINGS: While long-term trends in age-standardized rates of CVD mortality and incidence indicate substantial declines in disease burden, the impact of population growth and ageing has contributed to a continued increase in the absolute number of people living with CVD. Additionally, when data are restricted to the most recent decade, there are indications that even declines in age-standardized CVD rates may have attenuated. Trends are also heterogeneous across countries and regions, with a relative increase in CVD burden in developing countries and differing trends within countries. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in substantial short-term reductions in hospitalization rates for major atherosclerotic CVDs including acute coronary syndromes and heart failure in some countries. IMPLICATIONS: Recent attenuation of declines in atherosclerotic CVDs with increasing absolute burden has significant implications for health systems and resource availability, with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on longer-term trends in CVD yet to be clearly established.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Ther

Publication Date





1087 - 1091


Atherosclerosis, Cardiovascular disease, Incidence, Mortality, Trends, Humans, Cardiovascular Diseases, Pandemics, Global Health, Atherosclerosis, Myocardial Ischemia, COVID-19