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Reducing potentially excess deaths from the five leading causes of death in the rural United States
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    Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services (U.S.) ; National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (U.S.) ; National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (U.S.)
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    In 2014, the all-cause age-adjusted death rate in the United States reached a historic low of 724.6 per 100,000 population (1). However, mortality in rural (nonmetropolitan) areas of the United States has decreased at a much slower pace, resulting in a widening gap between rural mortality rates (830.5) and urban mortality rates (704.3) (1). During 1999–2014, annual age-adjusted death rates for the five leading causes of death in the United States (heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, chronic lower respiratory disease (CLRD), and stroke) were higher in rural areas than in urban (metropolitan) areas (Figure 1). In most public health regions (Figure 2), the proportion of deaths among persons aged <80 years (U.S. average life expectancy) (2) from the five leading causes that were potentially excess deaths was higher in rural areas compared with urban areas (Figure 3). Several factors probably influence the rural-urban gap in potentially excess deaths from the five leading causes, many of which are associated with sociodemographic differences between rural and urban areas. Residents of rural areas in the United States tend to be older, poorer, and sicker than their urban counterparts (3). A higher proportion of the rural U.S. population reports limited physical activity because of chronic conditions than urban populations (4). Moreover, social circumstances and behaviors have an impact on mortality and potentially contribute to approximately half of the determining causes of potentially excess deaths (5).

    Potentially excess deaths (also described as potentially preventable deaths) are defined as deaths among persons aged <80 years in excess of the number that would be expected if the death rates for each cause were equivalent across all states to those that occurred among the three states with the lowest rates (6,7). Although not all potentially excess deaths can be prevented, many might represent deaths that could be prevented through improved public health programs that support healthier behaviors and neighborhoods and better access to health care services.

    Suggested citation for this article: Garcia MC, Faul M, Massetti G, et al. Reducing Potentially Excess Deaths from the. MMWR Surveill Summ 2017;66(No. SS-2):1–7. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.ss6602a1.

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