While living in rural America has numerous benefits, including lower cost of living, affordable housing and abundant green space, a new study recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that rural residents are at higher risk of death from five leading causes than their urban counterparts.
According to the study, entitled “Leading Causes of Death in Nonmetropolitan and Metropolitan Areas—United States, 1999-2014,” the five leading causes of death in the U.S. between 1999 and 2014 were heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke. Together, these accounted for more than 1.6 million deaths (approximately 62% of all deaths) in 2014.
CDC found that annual age-adjusted death rates for these five causes were higher in nonmetropolitan areas than in metropolitan areas between 1999 and 2014. Age-adjusted death rates for unintentional injury were approximately 50% higher in nonmetropolitan areas. While the overall rate of deaths from stroke, heart disease and cancer decreased in both metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas over the period, the rate of decrease in deaths due to heart disease and cancer was slower in nonmetropolitan areas, and the rate of deaths due to stroke was about the same.
“This new study shows that there is a striking gap in health between rural and urban Americans,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “To close this gap, we are working to better understand and address the health threats that put rural Americans at increased risk of early death.”