WASHINGTON, Jan. 18, 2017 - A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts the focus on risks and challenges facing rural areas where it comes to lifestyles, injury rates and access to health care. Researchers examined the differences between urban and rural areas where it came to rates and causes of dying earlier than should be expected.

What they found is that rural residents are more likely to die significantly earlier than people in urban regions. The death rate from unintentional injuries, which includes traffic accidents and drug overdoses, is 50 percent higher in rural areas than in urban areas. The researchers say the higher death rate is partly due to the lack of treatment facilities as well as the time it takes for emergency responders to get to the scene of the accident.

It’s not just accidents that are the problem, however. Rural residents also die earlier from the four other leading causes: heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke. The researchers came up with data on what they call “excess deaths,” or the rate of deaths in excess of the three states with the lowest rates for each cause. Some 42.6 percent of heart disease deaths among persons aged under 80 years of age in rural areas are considered “excess,” compared with 27.8 percent in cities, the study found.

The study says that researchers and policymakers need to pay more attention to how health care and treatment resources are allocated between urban and rural areas. “Although rural communities are at higher risk for death from the five leading causes of death, funding to address risk factors is allocated on a population basis, often resulting in underfunded rural programs,” the study says.

About 15 percent of the population, or 46 million people, live in rural counties.


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