Our environments can and will have a fundamental impact on the state of our health. There are numerous variables that come into play — from air and water quality to culture. Because of that, certain cities and areas of the country are healthier than others. That’s why you see so many “healthiest city rankings“, and why healthcare costs may differ so drastically from one place to the next.
The stark variability in the quality of Americans health from one city to another isn’t ideal; Policymakers would like to see everyone with a solid bill of health and be able to get everyone the care they need with little issue. But that’s simply not how things play out.
Heart disease remains the nation’s number one cause of death. Fueled by an obesity epidemic; more and more people are suffering strokes and heart attacks. But they are not evenly distributed. In fact, when it comes to heart health, you’re more likely to suffer a heart attack if you’re living in certain cities.
A new report from Gallup-Healthways identifies the specific cities in which heart attacks are more common, and those in which they’re rare.
“Eight communities have more than 7% of residents who have experienced a heart attack. These communities typically have low well-being and high rates of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and depression,” the report said.
“Even though many Americans know that unhealthy eating and inactivity contributes to heart disease, many patients who are diagnosed with a heart problem still have difficulty adopting healthier lifestyles. One explanation may be that those with heart problems need additional social support, structure and resources to successfully make sustained lifestyle changes.”
Here are the ten cities the Gallup-Healthways report names as the “bottom 10 communities” in regards to heart attacks. The corresponding percentage is the number of people who responded “yes” to the question “have you ever been told by a physician or nurse that you have had a heart attack?”
10. Bristol, Tennessee
Straddling the border between Tennessee and Virginia, the Bristol region is best known for the races that take place at Bristol Motor Speedway. There’s probably no connection between the motor sports that get your heart pumping and the 6.8% of the population that have been told by a medical professional that they’ve had a heart attack, however.
9. Sarasota, Florida
7% of Sarasota’s population have been told that they’ve experienced a heart attack, according to Gallup. This also includes surrounding communities North Port and Bradenton.
8. Fort Smith, Arkansas
Fort Smith represents Arkansas’ second-largest metropolitan area, and it’s nestled up right against both the Arkansas River and the Oklahoma border. Fort Smith residents also have a pretty high rate of heart attacks — Gallup’s numbers say 7.1% of the population have experienced one.
7. Chico, California
Chico may share California with beach towns like Santa Barbara, San Diego, and dozens of others, but geographically and culturally, there are some big differences. 7.1%% of Chico residents have had heart attacks, for example. Compare that to San Jose (1.9%), San Luis Obispo (2.1%), and Visalia (2%), all of which made the top ten list for least amount of residents who’ve experienced heart attacks.
6. Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Lake Havasu is somewhat of an oasis in an otherwise bleak landscape, on the Arizona-California border. It’s a popular place for “snowbirds”, or, retirees who flock to the desert from northern states to avoid cold weather. That may explain the relatively high instances of heart attacks. Lake Havasu City and nearby Kingman’s populations, 7.2% have had a heart attack.
5. Youngstown, Ohio
A midsized city in eastern Ohio, Youngstown — along with nearby Warren and Boardman — is rife with heart attacks. Per Gallup’s report, 7.4% of Youngstown residents have experienced one.
4. Huntington, West Virginia
Huntington sits on the Ohio River, near the border convergence of West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky. Together with nearby Ashland, for Gallup’s research purposes, the region’s residents exhibit a high rate of heart attacks — 7.7%.
3. Duluth, Minnesota
In the northern reaches of Minnesota, Duluth sits right up Interstate 35 from Minneapolis. It’s not a very heart healthy place, however. 7.7% of Duluth’s population have experienced a heart attack at some point in their lives.
2. Daytona Beach, Florida
Another town known for motor sports and racing, Daytona Beach has the dubious distinction of being the second unhealthiest city in America when it comes to hearts. Of Daytona Beach, Ormond Beach, and Deltona’s population, 7.9% have had heart attacks.
1. Charleston, West Virginia
The city with the highest rate of heart attacks is Charleston, West Virginia. A whopping 8.8% of the city’s population have been told by medical professionals that they have, indeed, experienced a heart attack at some point in their lives.
If you’re curious, the city that scored the best from Gallup’s brief, with only 1.3% of the population having had a heart attack was a tie — Boulder, Colorado and Ann Arbor, Michigan.
See the entire Community Rankings from Gallup here.