How you die may depend on where you live, whether in rural or urban America.
Those who live in rural areas had a higher risk of dying from the five leading death cases than people who were in urban locations, a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed.
Back in 2014, there were a lot of likely preventable deaths in rural Americans, such as 25,000 cases from heart disease, 19,000 stemming from cancer, 12,000 from injuries brought by accidents, 11,000 from chronic lower respiratory illness, and 4,000 from stroke. The percentages were higher in rural than in urban areas.
Why Higher Death Rates In Rural Areas?
CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden pointed to the huge gap in health between rural and urban dwellers.
“To close this gap, we are working to better understand and address the health threats that put rural Americans at increased risk of early death,” he said in a statement.
Fifteen percent of the population, or some 46 million Americans, live in rural areas today. Demographic, economic, environmental, and social factors potentially put them at a higher risk for these preventable reasons for death, the researchers said.
In the study that obtained mortality data from the National Vital Statistics System, rural residents tended to be sicker and older than their urban counterparts. They also had greater rates of obesity, cigarette smoking, and high blood pressure.
They revealed less time allotted for leisure-time physical fitness and lower seat belt use, along with higher poverty rates, less health care access, and less likelihood of having health insurance coverage.
Deaths from unintentional injuries, for instance, were pegged at around 50 percent more in rural than in urban areas — fatalities that were partly due to higher death risks from vehicle crash and opioid overuse.
Factors also include slower access to specialized health care and the long distances from rural homes to trauma centers and other health care facilities.
Reporting the highest number of potentially preventable mortalities are rural parts of the southeastern and southwestern public health. The southeastern states are Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama, while the southwestern states are Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Arkansas.
Closing The Rural-Urban Disparities In Mortality
CDC seeks to address the gaps in health through specific recommendations for health care providers in rural locations. These include screening patients for hypertension, increasing early detection and prevention of cancer, encouraging healthy diet and exercise, and promoting smoking cessation.
Motor vehicle safety is another aspect, comprising the constant use of seat belts and counseling parents on age-appropriate car seats and other safety tools for car trips.
Providers should also go by CDC guidelines to be more cautious and provide alternatives prior to prescribing highly addictive narcotic painkillers, CDC added.
In a separate study published this week, researchers found that doing just one or two sessions of physical activity each week offered significant health benefits. Surprisingly, “weekend warriors" in particular registered a drop in deaths related to cancer and cardiovascular disease, regardless if exercise guidelines were met or not.