Community Efforts Cut Heart Disease, Stroke Factors in Maine

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Heart Disease, Stroke Factors in Maine
Heart Disease, Stroke Factors in Maine

(HealthDay News) — Over four decades (1970–2010), a community-wide program in rural Franklin County, ME, dramatically cut hospitalizations and deaths from cardiovascular disease and stroke, researchers report in the January 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Between 1970–1989, the death rate in the county was 60.4 per 100,000 people – already the lowest in Maine. But between 1990–2010, that rate dropped even lower, to 41.6 per 100,000 people. According to the research team, the health benefits were largely due to getting citizens to control their blood pressure, lower their cholesterol, and quit smoking. "Improving access to health care, providing insurance, and concentrating on risk factors for heart disease and stroke made a substantial difference in the health of the overall population," coauthor Roderick Prior, MD, from Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, ME, told HealthDay.

Not only did the program reduce the death rate, but it saved the county money. From 1994–2006, hospitalizations were less than expected, which saved nearly $5.5 million in total in- and out-of-area hospital costs for county residents each year, the researchers said.

Prior believes that the Franklin County experience can be a model for other communities in the country. "If communities begin to take hold of their health problems, they can increase longevity and decrease the cost of health care," he said.

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