Risk of developing heart failure much higher in rural areas vs. urban
Large NIH-supported study showed that rural-dwelling Black men are at greatest risk.
Adults living in rural areas of the United States have a 19% higher risk of developing heart failure compared to their urban counterparts, and Black men living in rural areas have an especially higher risk – 34%, according to a large observational study supported by the National Institutes of Health.
Researchers from NHLBI and Vanderbilt University Medical Center analyzed data from The Southern Community Cohort Study(link is external), a long-term health study of adults in the southeastern United States. They compared the rates of new onset heart failure among rural and urban residents in 12 states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia). The population, which included 27,115 adults without heart failure at enrollment, were followed for about 13 years. Nearly 20% of participants lived in rural areas; the remainder lived in urban areas. Almost 69% were Black adults recruited from community health centers that care for medically underserved populations.
At the end of the study period, the researchers found that living in rural America was associated with an increased risk of heart failure among both women and Black men, even after adjustment for other cardiovascular risk factors and socioeconomic status.
Overall, the risk of heart failure was about 19% higher in rural residents than their urban counterparts. However, Black men living in rural areas had the highest risk of all — a 34% higher risk of heart failure compared to urban-dwelling Black men.
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