Heart Disease More Prevalent in Southern U.S.

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A new study has determined that fewer Americans overall are dying from heart disease compared to 40 years ago. However, the trend is not consistent everywhere in the United States. Researchers have found that the nation’s leading “hotbeds” for heart disease have migrated to the southern portion of the country.

According to the new federally funded research, the counties in the country were clustered in the northeast in the 1970s. Now, they are concentrated in what is considered the “deep” South, a region where the Latinos population is growing faster than anywhere else in the United States. The study has not determined the causes for the shift, only the trend.

“[From] other studies we know the socioeconomic conditions of a county can affect rates of smoking and obesity, or whether people have access to affordable, healthy food, for example,” said lead researcher Michelle Casper, an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Southern states often have the highest rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes and kidney disease, which are risk factors of heart disease. Latinos also deal with disproportionately higher rates of diabetes and obesity, and face even higher risks of cardiovascular diseases due to high blood pressure.

“Social risk factors for heart disease are more common in the South,” said Dr. Donald Barr, professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine. “The disparity in heart disease deaths is not about hospital care. It’s about broader social structure.”

Read more about the study here.

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