During most of the twentieth century, cardiovascular mortality increased in the United
States while other causes of death declined. By 1958, the age-standardized death rate
(ASDR) for cardiovascular causes for females was 1.84 times that for all other causes,
combined(and, for males, 1.79). Although contemporary observers believed that
cardiovascular mortality would remain high, the late 1950s and early 1960s turned out
to be the peak of a roughly 70-year epidemic. By 1988 for females (1986 for males), a
spectacular decline had occurred, wherein the ASDR for cardiovascular causes was less
than that for other causes combined. We discuss this phenomenon from a demographic
point of view. We also test a hypothesis from the literature, that the 1918 influenza
pandemic caused the cardiovascular mortality epidemic; we fail to find support.

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