Americans in rural areas are more likely to die from preventable causes than their urban counterparts, according to a report from the CDC. Researchers at the agency used national mortality data to calculate potentially preventable deaths in people under 80 years old between 2010 and 2017 for the five leading causes of death in the U.S.:
- Heart disease
- Unintentional injuries (accidents)
- Chronic respiratory diseases (such as COPD)
Compared with the most urban counties or urban fringe areas (suburbs), the most rural counties hadsubstantially higher proportions of deaths that were deemed potentially preventable across all five causes. The gap was especially pronounced for deaths from cancer (22 percent potentially preventable in the most rural counties in 2017 versus 3 percent in the most urban counties) and respiratory diseases (57 percent in the most rural counties versus 13 percent in the most urban counties).
One reason for the disparities is that several key risk factors, including cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity, are more prevalent in rural areas. In addition, rural areas have fewer physicians and other medical resources.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.