Objectives: The objective of our study was to examine age-specific mortality rates from coronary heart disease (CHD), particularly those among younger adults.
Background: Trends for obesity, diabetes, blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome among young adults raise concerns about the mortality rates from CHD in this group.
Methods: We used mortality data from 1980 to 2002 to calculate age-specific mortality rates from CHD for U.S. adults age > or =35 years.
Results: Overall, the age-adjusted mortality rate decreased by 52% in men and 49% in women. Among women age 35 to 54 years, the estimated annual percentage change (EAPC) in mortality was -5.4% (95% confidence interval [CI] -5.8 to -4.9) from 1980 until 1989, -1.2% (95% CI -1.6 to -0.8) from 1989 until 2000, and 1.5% (95% CI -3.4 to 6.6) from 2000 until 2002. Among men age 35 to 54 years, the EAPC in mortality was -6.2% (95% CI -6.4 to -5.9) from 1980 until 1989, -2.3% (95% CI -2.6 to -2.1) from 1989 until 2000, and -0.5% (95% CI -3.7 to 2.9) from 2000 until 2002. Among women and men age > or =55 years, the estimated annual percentage decrease in mortality from CHD accelerated in more recent years compared with earlier periods.
Conclusions: The mortality rates for CHD among younger adults may serve as a sentinel event. Unfavorable trends in several risk factors for CHD provide a likely explanation for the observed mortality rates.