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Researchers tie stroke deaths to geography

May 8, 2014
by Richard R. Rogoski
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A team of researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have identified geographic "hot spots" and "cold spots" in the U.S. where deaths caused by strokes are disproportionately high or low.

Using county data from the 2010 Multiple Cause of Death files compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics and data from the 2010 Area Resource File, the researchers also used ArcGIS to find clusters of high and low stroke death rates within specific counties.

Results of the study, published in the the journal Neurology, showed that across 3,133 U.S. counties, 284 counties were identified as hot spots while 152 counties were identified as cool spots. Hot spots were mainly clustered in the Southeastern U.S., but also extended west to Texas and Oklahoma, the researchers said. Additional hot spots were noted in North Dakota and Montana.

They concluded: "Geographic analysis can be used to identify clusters of high stroke mortality rates. These techniques may help identify geographic areas for targeted interventions to improve population health."

However, they also noted that further studies could determine the reasons for these clusters.