Study Finds Heart Failure Risks Increase If You Live In Rural Areas

The heart is an essential internal organ that keeps you alive as it continues pumping blood. In fact, Healthline notes that the sound of the beat in your heart actually comes from the valves as they open and close, and the intricate rhythm of the heart is actually controlled by an electric process. In addition, the heart is estimated to beat over 100,000 beats per day and some 2,000 gallons of blood are pumped by the heart per day. However, sometimes the heart does not pump to its full capacity.

When the heart is not able to pump effectively and your body's cells become deprived of oxygen and nutrients from the blood it is known as heart failure (per American Heart Association). As the heart begins to fail at maintaining its healthy pace, the individual may experience extreme fatigue and loss of breath. This can make something as simple as walking up the stairs a tiring task. Unfortunately, some 6.2 million Americans have heart failure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With that being said, a recent study published in JAMA Cardiology looked at the demographics of heart failure to see if more people in rural or urban areas are at higher risk of heart failure. The results may surprise you.

Living in a rural area versus urban area

The 2023 study via JAMA Cardiology aimed to discover if Americans, particularly Black and white adults, living in rural southeastern areas were more at risk for developing heart failure when compared to those living in urban areas. The researchers studied over 27,000 adults from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia (via U.S. News & World Report). Notably, 80% of the subjects were from urban areas, while 20% were from rural areas.

Experts found that living in rural areas of America was associated with a higher risk of heart failure for white women and Black men, as per the study. The average risk for heart failure was nearly 19% higher for those living in rural areas when compared to urban locations. While white women in rural areas had a 22% higher risk of heart failure when compared to white women from urban areas, Black women living in rural areas had an 18% greater risk of heart failure compared to Black women living in urban locations (per U.S. News & World Report). As for Black men living in rural areas, they had a 34% higher risk of heart failure compared to Black men in urban areas. There was no association for a greater risk of heart failure for white men in rural areas when compared to urban areas. Nevertheless, some conditions affect men and women differently.