According to a study published in JAMA Cardiology, US adults living in rural areas are more likely to develop heart failure than adults living in urban areas.
This study is the first to examine the link between living in rural America and first-time cases of heart failure. “So, we were interested in looking at the intersectionality between rurality and race,” Dr. Véronique Roger, the study’s corresponding author, said.
The study’s researchers evaluated adults who participated in the Southern Community Cohort Study. Participants were enrolled between 2002 and 2009 and followed up until December 31, 2016. Participants were from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Of these participants, about 20% lived in rural areas and only those who identified as Black or non-Hispanic White were included in this study.
The researchers observed that rural participants had slightly higher body mass indexes and rates of hypertension, diabetes, coronary disease, and hyperlipidemia than their urban counterparts.
After considering various factors like age, sex, race, cardiovascular risk factors, health behaviors, and socioeconomic factors, the researchers found that adults living in rural areas had a 19% higher risk of developing heart failure than those living in urban areas.
Furthermore, the study found that the risk of heart failure was highest in rural Black men, who had a 34% higher risk than those in urban areas.
The researchers also found that Black women in rural areas had an 18% higher risk of heart failure than those in urban areas. Similarly, White women in rural areas had a 22% higher risk than those in urban areas.
“We addressed, as much as we could, things that we thought could be playing a role in our observation,” Dr. Roger said. “We expected that… we would find such a difference, but we did not expect the magnitude of the difference that we saw.”