Disparities in Top 5 Causes of Death Identified In Rural and Urban Americans

Americans living in rural areas more likely to die from top 5 causes of death, including cancer.

Heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke accounted for 62% of 1.6 million deaths in the United States in 2014.

In a study by the CDC, investigators found a disparity regarding these top 5 causes of death between rural and urban Americans, with rural Americans more likely to die from these conditions.

Among rural Americans, more than 70,000 deaths were potentially preventable, including 25,000 deaths from heart disease and 19,000 from cancer.

Approximately 15% of the population in the United Sates lives in rural areas and consist of individuals who tend to be older, sicker, and poorer compared with urban Americans.

“There is a striking gap in health between rural and urban Americans,” Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, told The Washington Post.

The results of the study showed that individuals living in rural areas had higher rates of cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity, while there are also lower rates of physical activity.

Unfortunately, rural America is where a majority of Americans are in need of health care the most, but have much less access to health care services, and are less likely to have health insurance.

Prior studies by the CDC found that a substantial proportion of deaths in each of the top 5 categories could have been avoided, but the new data revealed more premature deaths in rural areas.

“When the federal government tries to address health disparities, it usually focuses on large population areas where they can get the most bang for the federal dollar,” Alan Morgan, chief executive of the National Rural Health Association, told the Post. “And that leaves vast areas of America without a federal or state partnership on ensuring access to care.”

The report in the Post noted that for the first time in more than 2 decades, the nation’s life expectancy dropped due to increasing rates of heart disease and stroke, drug overdoses, diabetes, accidents, and other conditions, according to a report released last month by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Rural areas of the southeastern and southwestern public health regions have the highest number of potentially preventable deaths, according to the Post. This new information about disparities between rural and urban America could help health care providers in rural areas better address these gaps, CDC officials said.

Some approaches to take included more comprehensive screening for high blood pressure and cancer, and increased efforts for individuals to wear seat belts and stop smoking. Furthermore, rural areas should also follow CDC guidelines for prescribing narcotic painkillers, the Post reported.