Objective: Coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality has declined in the past few decades; however, it is unclear whether the reduction in CHD deaths has been similar across urbanization levels and in specific racial groups. We describe the pattern and magnitude of urban-rural variations in CHD mortality in the U.S.
Methods: Using data from the National Center for Health Statistics, we examined trends in death rates from CHD from 1999 to 2009 among people aged 35-84 years, in each geographic region (Northeast, Midwest, West, and South) and in specific racial-urbanization groups, including black and white people in large and medium metropolitan (urban) areas and in non-metropolitan (rural) areas. We also examined deaths from early-onset CHD in females aged <65 years and males aged <55 years.
Results: From 1999 to 2009, there was a 40% decline in age-adjusted CHD mortality. The trend was similar in black and white people but was more pronounced in urban than in rural areas, resulting in a crossover in 2007, when rural areas began showing a higher CHD mortality than urban areas. White people in large metropolitan areas had the largest decline (43%). Throughout the study period, CHD mortality remained higher in black people than in white people, and, in the South, it remained higher in rural than in urban areas. For early-onset CHD, the mortality decline was more modest (30%), but overall trends by urbanization and region were similar.
Conclusion: Favorable national trends in CHD mortality conceal persisting disparities for some regions and population subgroups (e.g., rural areas and black people).