Chronic Diseases Leading Cause of Death in Los Angeles County
Chronic diseases -- including heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes -- in 2002 accounted for 80% of deaths and $48 billion in health care costs in Los Angeles County, according to a report the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services released Monday, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. The report found that heart disease and stroke accounted for 40% of premature deaths and were the leading causes of premature death and disability.
In addition, the report found that a lower percentage of people in affluent communities in Los Angeles County die prematurely from heart disease or stroke than in lower-income communities.
Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of county DHS, said that high rates of premature death from heart disease and stroke are found in "communities that have problems of overcrowding, poor housing stock, poverty, high levels of unemployment, poor educational attainment, high levels of dependency on government programs and low incomes."
The report stated that the differences likely could be attributed to different levels of smoking and physical inactivity, as well as socioeconomic disparities in access to health care and the quality of living and working conditions (Anderson, Los Angeles Daily News, 2/14).