Health Problems

Number of ‘potentially excess deaths’ up in nonmetropolitan counties

During 2010 to 2017, nonmetropolitan counties had higher percentages of potentially excess deaths from five leading causes than metropolitan counties nationwide, according to research published in the Nov. 8 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Macarena C. Garcia, Dr.P.H., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues calculated potentially excess deaths from the five leading causes of death (heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke) among persons aged <80 years. The six levels of the 2013 National Center for Health Statistics urban-rural classification scheme for counties was used to categorize deaths according to urban-rural level of the decedent's county of residence.

The researchers found that in all years during 2010 to 2017, the percentages of potentially excess deaths from the five leading causes were higher in nonmetropolitan counties across the United States. For the study period, percentages of potentially excess deaths in the most rural counties were consistently higher than in the most urban counties. Potentially excess deaths from the five leading causes increased in all county categories with the largest increases in large central metropolitan, large fringe metropolitan, and medium metropolitan counties (annual percent change, 18.3, 17.1, and 11.1 percent, respectively).

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