Where you live could tell you a lot about what might eventually kill you.
That's according to an in-depth study of mortality rates by county, which is said to be the most comprehensive look at how Americans die, a news release says.
The results can be viewed in an interactive map, where you can search to find rates for 21 of the most common causes of death in all 3,142 U.S. counties. The University of Washington's report was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Researchers discovered that causes of death and location varied tremendously. For example, dying from cardiovascular disease was more common along the southern half of the Mississippi River, while death by self-harm and interpersonal violence was higher in the southwestern United States.
The report also found that the most common causes of death have changed in counties from 1980-2014. In more than 2,000 counties since 1980, deaths related to substance abuse and mental disorders increased by 200 percent or more, the report found.
Let's take a look at Minnesota
Southern Minnesota had some of the lowest mortality rates when compared to the rest of the country, the report found.
And counties here showed up on several of the study's lists for the 10 with the lowest mortality rates in 2014, based on cause of death. (You can download and search through all the files associated with the study here.)
Here are some highlights:
- When HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis were the cause of death (the report groups them together), three Minnesota counties had among the lowest death rates in the country. They were Meeker County at No. 2, Sibley County No. 5 and Redwood County at No. 6.
- Traverse County came in at No. 8, while Waseca County was No. 10 for lowest death rates for diarrhea, lower respiratory and other common infections.
- Counties with the lowest infant death rates in the country included Carver County at No. 2, Sibley County at No. 4 and Scott County at No. 8.
- Wabasha County came in at No. 7 for counties with the lowest maternal disorder deaths.
- When looking at other communicable diseases (that's diseases you can catch from others) as the cause of death, Traverse County came in at No. 10 on the list of counties with the lowest death rate.
- Dodge County ranks No. 7 on the counties with the fewest chronic liver-related deaths, like cirrhosis.
- Jackson County (No. 3) and Nobles County (No. 10) were among the counties with the lowest mental and substance abuse disorder deaths.
For more information on individual counties, check out these county profiles.
So what does this mean?
Well, the report was meant to be a resource for health officials, physicians, researchers and community leaders who are looking to improve health in their communities.
And for the causes of death that have effective treatments, Laura Dwyer-Lindgren, the lead author on the study, said in a statement that "inequalities in mortality rates spotlight areas where access to essential health services and quality of care needs to be improved."
Dr. Ali Mokdad, a co-author of the study, said disparities in medical access and quality of care contribute to higher rates of death in some areas, while other causes of death are linked to risk factors or policies, according to the news release.