According to a study from Women's College Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), Canada, it doesn't matter whether you live in a rural or urban setting when it comes to heart disease - the risk if the same for both environments. The general consensus is that those living in rural areas are at a disadvantage as far as heart disease treatment is concerned, since they have less access to specialized facilities and turn out less regularly for checkups. The findings, however, show once a patient leaves the hospital their overall health outcomes are similar regardless of where they live.
No difference in heart disease prevalence between urban and rural
Heart disease, such as coronary heart disease, heart attack, congestive heart failure, and congenital heart disease, is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S. The most common cause of heart disease is narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart itself. This is called coronary artery disease and happens slowly over time and it's the major reason people have heart attacks.
The researchers examined the records of more than 38,000 people with chronic ischemic heart disease living in either urban or rural areas. The key behavioral differences when it comes to heart disease between the two demographics, as identified by the researchers, were that rural people:
- Had fewer specialist visits
- Visited hospital emergency departments more frequently for care
- Were prescribed statins less often
- Were tested less frequently for cholesterol and blood sugar levels
- Experienced a similar risk of hospitalization and death
Despite this discrepancy in access to health care facilities, this did not affect any of the two groups significantly, as reported in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.
"From our study, we know that people with heart disease in rural areas tend to rely heavily on emergency departments for their care because of a lack of outpatient access to family doctors and specialists," said Dr. Bhatia, also a scientist at ICES. "Yet, despite an increase in emergency department admissions in rural areas, we didn't see worse health outcomes for these individuals."
You can help reduce your risk of heart disease by taking steps to control factors that put you at greater risk:
- Control your blood pressure
- Lower your cholesterol
- Don't smoke
- Get enough exercise