Where You Live Might Affect Your Health

Death risk for rural Americans was higher than for other groups

(RxWiki News) Living in a rural area may mean you face a raised risk of death, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This increased risk of death for rural Americans compared to their urban counterparts appeared to come from five leading causes of death, which include cancer, heart disease, stroke, unintentional injuries and chronic lower respiratory disease.

And many of those deaths may be preventable, according to the CDC.

"This new study shows there is a striking gap in health between rural and urban Americans,” said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden in a press release. “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.” 

Economic, demographic, environmental and social factors may play a part in rural Americans' increased risk of death, according to the CDC. In this study, those living in rural areas tended to be older and sicker, have less access to health care and be less likely to have health insurance when compared to those living in urban areas, the CDC noted.

Also, rural Americans were more likely to face higher poverty, high blood pressure, obesity and smoking rates, as well as less leisure-time physical activity.

Rural Americans also reported less seat belt use. In fact, the current study found unintentional injury deaths to be 50 percent higher in rural America due in part to a greater risk of death from automobile accidents. Another issue this study identified was the long distance many rural Americans had to travel to receive immediate care at health care facilities and trauma centers.  

For those living in a rural area, the CDC recommended the following:

  • Get your blood pressure checked and know your blood pressure numbers. Speak with your health care provider about what your blood pressure goals should be. High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for stroke and heart disease.
  • Get screened for cancer.
  • Get active. Speak with your health care provider about starting an exercise program that is safe for you.
  • Implement healthy eating.
    • Exercise and healthy eating can help prevent obesity. Obesity is linked to several chronic conditions, such as diabetes and arthritis.
  • Stop smoking. Speak with your health care provider if you need help quitting. Cigarette smoking is considered the leading cause of preventable disease and death. 
  • Always wear your seat belt. Make sure you use the appropriate car seat and booster seat for your child.

This CDC study was published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

No outside funding sources or potential conflicts of interest were disclosed.