Docs tackle high rates of chronic conditions in South, Midwest

Given that rehospitalizations for chronic conditions are substantially higher than for acute conditions, efforts to cut preventable readmissions could be targeted to Southern and Midwestern states, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

The annual poll found that many states in the South and Midwest hold the highest rates of obesity and chronic disease, noting the link between high obesity rates and poor health outcomes, including the prevalence of chronic illnesses.

West Virginia has the highest rates of obesity (35.3 percent), high blood pressure (38.9 percent), diabetes (15.7 percent), heart attack (7.6 percent) and cancer (8.8 percent), among others, the Charleston Gazette reported.

To curb chronic conditions, providers in West Virginia are calling for stronger statewide education so programs can reach patients in rural areas. "A lot of people don't even know they can prevent these diseases," Pat White, director of West Virginia Health Right, told the newspaper.

In keeping with the geographic pattern, the survey shows Mississippi has the second highest rate of high blood pressure (38.7 percent) in the nation, with Alabama (36.5 percent) not far behind.

The survey also shows that southern states have the lowest overall health scores. The annual poll found that West Virginia has the lowest well-being in the nation (62.3), followed by Kentucky (63.3) and Mississippi (63.4), according to the American Medical News.

In addition to educating patients about healthier behaviors, physicians in Mississippi are collaborating with local communities to improve their scores. For instance, the Mississippi State Medical Association is sponsoring plans to put healthier foods in school vending machines, as well as obtain more playground equipment for children, noted amednews.

To learn more:
- here's the survey
- read the Charleston Gazette article
- here's the amednews article