Early Deaths Vary State to State

Premature deaths different in US states but down overall

(RxWiki News) Could where you live have an effect on your risk for early death? There are some differences between states and rates of premature death, a new study found.

The study compared rates of death before age 75 in different US states. The researchers found that changes in early death rates varied from state to state during the last 20 years, but declined overall.

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Led by Patrick L. Remington, MD, of the Population Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, the researchers looked at premature death (death before the age of 75 years old).

The study authors explained that they chose age 75 because before this age, people are more responsive to prevention efforts and a good indicator of the health of a population. 

The researchers examined the most recent premature death rates in 2009, baseline rates during the 1990s, follow-up rates during the 2000s, and changes during these times. Data was obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research (WONDER).

The average national premature death rate in 2009 was 346 deaths per 100,000 people. The study found that premature death rates varied fairly drastically state to state and region to region.

The lowest premature death rate seen for 2009 was in Minnesota with 268 premature deaths per 100,000 people. Connecticut (276 deaths per 100,000 people), Vermont (278 deaths), New Hampshire (281 deaths), and Massachusetts (283 deaths) had the next lowest rates.

The highest rate was seen in Mississippi with 482 premature deaths per 100,000 people. West Virginia (464 deaths per 100,000 people), Alabama (463 deaths), Louisiana (456 deaths), and Oklahoma (452 deaths) and the next highest rates.

"States with the lowest rates were in the Northeast, Midwest, and West, and states with the highest rates were in the South," Dr. Remington and colleagues noted.

Overtime, premature death rates have declined in the US as a whole. During the 1990s, the national rate declined an average of 1.49 percent per year. During the 2000s, the rate continued to decline at an average of 1.59 percent per year.

Though the overall premature death rates declined over the last 20 years, the change was not uniform over all 50 states, and rates even increased in certain individual states, the researchers noted.

"Policy makers can use these measures to evaluate the long-term population health impact of broad health care, behavioral, social, and economic investments in population health," the study authors wrote.

The study was published December 26 in the CDC's journal Preventing Chronic Diseases. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
December 27, 2013