Your heart attack risk may be strongly influenced not only by your diet, exercise level, and genetic background, but also where you live.
According to a new report presented at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology this week, heart attack deaths have declined across the United States in recent years, but still are far more likely to strike Southerners than residents of other regions of the country.
Researchers said the uneven distribution of socioeconomic and traditional cardiovascular risk factors may be key factors in the disparity.
The findings are based on analysis of the hospital records of more than 12.9 million heart attack cases from 2000 to 2010 in different regions of the country.
The results showed a decline in heart attack death in all regions of the United States, but the overall in-hospital death rate per 100,000 cases was highest in the South followed by the Midwest, Northeast, and the West. African-Americans and Hispanics in the South were far more likely to die from heart attacks than whites in the region
The review also showed a significantly higher rate of cardiovascular risk factors including diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking in the southern states compared to other regions. Median household income was also much lower in this area.
"We've made great strides in the way we treat our heart disease patients in this country, especially with [advances in] new medication, technologies and treatment protocols, but a gap of this size is unacceptable," said lead researcher Sadip Pant, M.D., an internist with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and lead investigator of the study.
"Lower household income in the region may play a role by affecting the type of care people receive, how well they are able to manage their risk factors, how often they see their doctors, and whether they have access to the proper medications," he said.
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