(HealthDay News) — Deaths from heart disease are dropping, but deaths related to hypertension and arrhythmias are on the rise, according to a new government study presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions.

The findings, which were simultaneously published in JAMA, were released early to coincide with a presentation at the annual meeting.

From 2000 to 2010, the overall death rate from heart disease dropped 3.8% each year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers found. At the same time, death rates linked to hypertension-related heart disease increased 1.3% a year. The researchers also found that deaths tied to arrhythmias rose 1% a year.

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Although this study didn’t report death rates based on the type of arrhythmia, another study — also presented Sunday at the AHA meeting — found that the rates of emergency department visits for atrial fibrillation increased by 24% from 2006 to 2011.

Lead researcher Matthew Ritchey, a CDC epidemiologist, said the increase in deaths from arrhythmias might be due to the aging population and people living longer with heart failure, kidney disease and hypertension. 

“While we are continuing to improve in the overall heart disease death rate, we still have considerable work to do,” he told HealthDay. “During this 11-year period, more than seven million heart disease-related deaths still occurred, including 600,000 deaths in 2010, making heart disease the leading cause of death in the United States.”


  1. Ritchey MD et al. JAMA. 2014;312(19):2037-2039.
  2. Aggarwal S et al. Abstract 15749. Presented at: American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2014; Nov. 15-19, 2014; Chicago.