Heart Disease Death Rates Linked to Race, Location
Black men over the age of 35 and all men in the rural South are more likely to die of heart disease than other men, according to a new "atlas" of the disease released yesterday, USA Today reports. The study found that black men were 26% more likely to die of heart disease than white men and nearly 50% more likely to die of heart disease than Hispanic men, with disparities linked to societal causes (Sternberg, USA Today, 6/21). Researchers at the CDC and West Virginia University examined data on 1.7 million men over age 35 who died from heart disease -- the nation's leading cause of death -- between 1991 and 1995 (Bowman, Scripps Howard/Washington Times. Here are some of the main findings of the 231-page report, titled "Men and Heart Disease: An Atlas of Racial and Ethnic Disparities."
- Black men living in the Ohio-Mississippi River Valley, Appalachia, southeastern Georgia, the Mississippi Delta, and other southern rural areas faced an increased risk of heart disease. The risk for white men was also higher in these areas (Guthrie, Atlanta-Journal Constitution, 6/21).
- Among racial groups, black men had a heart disease death rate of 841 per 100,000, followed by white men (666), American Indian and Alaska natives (465), Hispanics (432) and Asians and Pacific Islanders (372). The overall heart disease death rate was 675 per 100,000 men.
- Among states, Mississippi, West Virginia and Kentucky had the highest rates of heart disease deaths among men, while Hawaii, Utah and Colorado had the lowest (Rulon, AP/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 6/21).
- Men in "major metropolitan areas" had low to moderate heart disease death rates (Scripps Howard/Washington Times, 6/21). However, New York City's death rate was 853 per 100,000, exceeding every state except Mississippi. In addition, the rate for black men in New York City was lower than that of white men (Ferraro, New York Daily News, 6/21).
- Based on a similar report on women last year, the study concluded that men across all ethnic groups suffer higher rates of heart disease than women, although the same geographic, ethnic and racial disparities exist in both genders.
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West Virginia University's Elizabeth Barnett, lead author of the study, said that the highest rates of heart disease deaths "are found in the regions of the country with the poorest economies and few health care resources, particularly in underdeveloped rural areas" (Scripps Howard/Washington Times, 6/21).