Cardiovascular disease among women residing in rural America: epidemiology, explanations, and challenges

Am J Public Health. 2002 Apr;92(4):548-51. doi: 10.2105/ajph.92.4.548.


Many believe that the United States has entered a "Golden Age" of cardiovascular health and medicine. Pharmacological and technological advances have indeed produced an era of declining mortality rates from cardiovascular diseases for the nation as a whole. However, there remain areas of challenge. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is still by far the leading cause of death and disability in the United States, and it is the leading killer of US women. Perhaps the single most notable feature of the CVD epidemic in the United States is the substantial difference in morbidity and mortality that exists between White women and women of color, with a disproportionate share of suffering borne by minority women. Unexplained regional variations also cloud the otherwise notable progress of the last 30 years, and many rural areas appear to be uniquely affected by cardiovascular disease. This commentary reviews the evidence that the CVD epidemic disproportionately burdens women of color who reside in rural areas, itemizes and provides a logical framework for explaining this burden, and suggests approaches to solving this vexing public health problem.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / ethnology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Geography
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Minority Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Public Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Rural Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Women's Health*