CDC Reports on Higher Death Rates in Non-Metro Areas

The January 13th edition of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) provides an assessment of the leading causes of death in non-metro and metro areas between 1999 and 2014, concluding that higher rates of death occur in non-metro areas of the U.S.

After calculating age-adjusted death rates and potentially excess death in metro and non-metro areas for the five leading causes of death–heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke–the CDC concluded that more than half of all deaths (57.5%) from unintentional injury, specifically, that occur outside metro areas were potentially excess (potentially preventable). In metro areas, that rate is 39.2%.

The report suggests the higher rate of excess death in more rural areas of the country may be related to a variety of factors including less access to health care services, further distance to trauma care centers, and reduced EMS services as well as behavioral factors like physical inactivity during leisure and lower use of seat belts.

“Routine tracking of potentially excess deaths in nonmetropolitan areas might help public health departments identify emerging health problems, monitor known problems, and focus interventions to reduce preventable deaths in these areas,” the report concludes.

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