JACKSON, Miss (WJTV) – People who have both diabetes and cardiovascular disease are dying at a higher rate than in previous years, according to new research published in The American Journal of Medicine.

Investigators used the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Wide-Ranging OnLine Data for Epidemiologic Research database to identify deaths of adults, 25 years old and older, for whom both cardiovascular disease and diabetes were an underlying or contributing cause of death from 1999 to 2019. 

After an initial decline during the early years of the study, researchers noted a reversal of the trend, with mortality increasing from 2014 to 2019. 

Diabetes has been on the rise in recent years, according to health officials at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC). More than 37 million adults in the U.S. are reported to have diabetes, with an additional 8 million undiagnosed. 

“We found that Mississippi had the second highest diabetes and cardiovascular disease related mortality in the United States, a close second to Oklahoma,” said Dr. Abdul Minhas, assistant professor of medicine and co-lead investigator. “This is more than two-fold compared to the states with lowest mortality. We have seen this trend across several diseases. Mississippi, unfortunately, continues to be on the top, when it comes to high mortality rates and poor health outcomes.”

Possible factors impacting the increase in mortality include poverty, lack of access to preventive and specialist care and the high burden of chronic diseases. 

Rising levels of hypertension, hyperlipidemia, obesity and smoking and lower levels of physical activity have also contributed to the negative trends.

“We need a multifaceted approach, with all the relevant stakeholders, coming together in order to improve the health outcomes in our state,” said Minhas. “Targeted interventions are required to prevent the loss of years of progress, with a focus on prevention and reduction in disparities.”