How your hometown stacks up when it comes to heart disease

How your hometown stacks up when it comes to heart disease

Cardiac deaths have declined over the years, but some areas of the U.S. remain behind the curve.

A recent study, published in the journal Circulation, revealed that over the last 30-plus years, heart disease mortality has decreased considerably, but southern states lag behind in their rate of decline.

Looking at data from 1973-2010, researchers found that counties with high rates of heart disease mortality have shifted from the Northeast to the Deep South. Overall percentage decline ranged from 9.2 percent to 83.4 percent. Counties with the slowest decline were found in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

“These findings provide local communities with important historical context regarding their current burden of heart disease, and emphasize the importance of local conditions in heart disease prevention and treatment efforts,” study author Michel Casper, PhD, told the American Heart Association.

Researchers speculated that a variety of factors could account for the differences seen between regions, including differences in social and economic conditions, public health policies, behavioral risk factors, and access to quality health care. For example, many southern states lagged behind when it came to mandating smoke-free public areas. Counties in the south also tended to have the highest prevalence of heart disease risk factors such as hypertension, obesity and physical inactivity.

“The foundation for improvement, regardless of location, is generally going to be an overall heart-healthy lifestyle,” says Dr. Kunal Bodiwala, a cardiologist with Advocate Heart Institute at BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. “Following the appropriate dietary guidelines, not smoking and managing weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar are an individual’s strongest defense.”

“We’ve made progress in the fight against cardiovascular disease, but the fight is not won,” adds Dr. Bodiwala.

To see how your county’s health has changed over time, click here.

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One Comment

  1. Let’s see a bigger version of the map!!!

About the Author

Lynn Hutley
Lynn Hutley

Lynn Hutley, health enews contributor, is coordinator of public affairs and marketing at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Eureka Hospital in central Illinois. Having grown up in a family-owned drug store, it is no surprise that Lynn has spent almost 18 years working in the health care industry. She has a degree in human resources management from Illinois State University and is always ready to tackle Trivia Night.