Heart Failure Belt Identified in Southeastern United States

Heart failure mortality in the southeast is 69 percent higher than the national rate

THURSDAY, March 17 (HealthDay News) -- A "heart failure belt" with higher heart failure mortality compared to the rest of the country has been identified in the southeastern United States, which follows a similar geographic pattern to the recognized "stroke belt," according to a study published in the March 15 issue of The American Journal of Cardiology.

Marjan Mujib, M.B.B.S., M.P.H., of the University of Alabama in Birmingham, and colleagues investigated the geographic variation of heart failure mortality in the United States. Using epidemiologic data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the 2000 United States population as the standard, age-adjusted heart failure and stroke mortality rates were estimated for 1979 through 1998, and mapped at the state level.

The researchers found that the age-adjusted heart failure mortality rate for the six contiguous states of Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Georgia, was 69 percent higher than the national rate (31.0 per 100,000 versus 18.1 per 100,000). The geographic disparity was consistent among races; African-Americans in this region had a heart failure mortality rate 52 percent higher than the national rate, and whites in this region had a mortality rate 70 percent higher than the national rate.

"Findings from the present analysis demonstrate a profound regional disparity in heart failure mortality in the United States and provide evidence for the existence of a heart failure belt, similar to the stroke belt, in the southeastern region of the United States, where heart failure mortality is the highest in the nation," the authors write.

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