Deaths Linked to Substance Use, CVD on the Rise


  • From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wide-Ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research (CDC WONDER) database and using International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes, researchers collected data on deaths within the United States where both SU and CVD (SU+CVD) were a contributing or an underlying cause and gathered information on location of death (medical facility, home, hospice, nursing home/long-term care facility), demographics (sex, race/ethnicity, age), and region (urban-rural, state).
  • Researchers determined crude and age-adjusted mortality rates (AAMRs) per 100,000 population, identified trends in AAMR using annual percent change (APC) and calculated the weighted average of APCs (AAPCs).
  • Between 1999 and 2019, there were 636,572 deaths related to CVD+SU, 75.6% of which were among men and 70.6% among non-Hispanic White individuals, with 65% related to alcohol, and where location of death was available, 47.7% occurred in medical facilities.


  • The overall SU+CVD-related AAMR from 1999 to 2019 was 14.3 (95% CI, 14.3-14.3) per 100,000 individuals, with the rate being higher in men (22.5) than in women (6.8) and highest in American Indians or Alaska Natives (37.7) compared with other races/ethnicities.
  • Rural areas had higher SU+CVD-related AAMR (15.2; 95% CI, 15.1-15.3) than urban areas, with the District of Columbia having the highest AAMR geographically (25.4), individuals aged 55-69 years having the highest rate agewise (25.1), and alcohol accounting for the highest rate (9.09) among substance types.
  • Temporal trends show that the overall SU+CVD-related AAMR increased from 9.9 in 1999 to 21.4 in 2019, a rate that started accelerating in 2012, with an AAPC of 4.0% (95% CI, 3.7-4.3); increases were across all ethnicities and age groups and were particularly pronounced among women (4.8%; 95% CI, 4.5-5.1).
  • Cannabis had the highest AAPC of all substances (12.7%), but stimulants had an APC of 21.4 (95% CI, 20.0-22.8) from 2009 to 2019, a period during which stimulants were the fastest-growing substance abuse category.


These new results identify high-risk groups, which "is crucial for prioritizing preventive measures aiming to reduce substance use and cardiovascular disease-related mortality in these populations.