There are a million ways to die. But for rural Americans, there are five causes of death in particular that are more common than their urban counterparts, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control.
“This new study shows there is a striking gap in health between rural and urban Americans,” says CDC Director Tom Frieden. “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.”
This report is part of a newly included rural health series in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality weekly report. CDC reports these five causes of deaths are disproportionate in rural America:
- Heart disease
- Unintentional injuries
- Chronic lower respiratory disease (emphysema)
About 15% (46 million) of the U.S. population live in rural areas. According to the CDC, rural Americans are on average older and sicker than their urban counterparts, with higher rates of cigarette smoking, rates of high blood pressure and obesity. They report less “leisure time” physical activity and use seatbelts at lower rates.
Rural residents also have higher rates of poverty, lower access to healthcare and are less likely to have health insurance.
“We have seen increasing rural-urban disparities in life expectancy and mortality emerge in the past few years. CDC’s focus on these critical rural health issues comes at an important time,” according to Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Acting Administrator Jim Macrae.
CDC encourages rural healthcare providers to screen patients for high blood pressure, increase cancer prevention and early detection, encourage physical activity and healthy eating, promote smoking cessation and other activities that can help curb more preventable deaths in rural America.
For more information on current rural health initiatives, visit www.hrsa.gov/ruralhealth/.