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LA County Health Checkup Offers Mixed Results

khts_healthStudy ranks LA County above benchmarks in several categories.

The California Department of Public Health has released a study that rates all of the state's 58 counties in terms of health statistics.

Overall the study revealed some positive achievement for Los Angeles county, including a per capita death rate that was the 14th lowest in the state.

The statistics weigh each county's mortality and morbidity rates against other counties and Healthy People 2010 national goals.

"This report underscores that our collective efforts to improve residents' health at the local level are having a positive impact," said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer. "But, as the report shows, Los Angeles County continues to have above average rates of death due to diabetes, coronary heart disease, and specific vaccine-preventable illnesses such as influenza and pneumonia."

The Good:

  • Fewer Los Angeles County residents are dying from Alzheimer's disease compared to the state average; although Alzheimer's disease continues to increase, accounting for a large disease burden among the county's aging population.
  • Rates of death due to stroke, all cancers, and lung cancer specifically were well below the state average, easily beating nationwide benchmarks for 2010
  • LA County has high rates of breastfeeding among mothers with newborns
  • The county has low rates of unintentional injuries.

According to a Public Health news release, LA County reached all benchmarks established by the Healthy People 2010 National Objectives for the chronic diseases that were responsible for the majority of deaths in LA County.

Room for Improvement:

  • Deaths due to diabetes in LA County hit 23.4 per 100,000 residents between 2006 and 2008, the 13th highest rate of California's 58 counties and exceeding the state average of 21.1.
  • LA County also suffered the 11th highest rate of fatal coronary heart disease in the
    state, with 151.1 deaths per every 100,000 residents, as compared to the state average of 137.1.
  • Sexually transmitted disease rates higher than state average.

"All chronic diseases are impacted by key health behaviors such as the way we eat, how active we are, and whether we smoke," said Dr. Fielding. "Improving nutrition, increasing physical activity, and reducing tobacco use and the abuse of other substances are major goals for Public Health."

He continued; "The risk for chronic disease increases with age, resulting in a growing need for assistance from families or professional caregivers for those with late-stage diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and Alzheimer's disease. A healthier population now means a healthier population for the future."

Last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) awarded two grants to LA County worth a total of $32.1 million through the Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative. The funding, which will be allocated over a two-year period, provides $15.9 million for obesity, physical activity and nutrition projects, and $16.2 million for tobacco control and prevention projects.

"With this money, we will be able to target the sources of some of the most pressing health issues in LA County," Dr. Fielding said. "Our county has one of the highest age-adjusted death rates due to diabetes in the state. With new programs promoting physical activity and better nutrition, we can address that issue head-on."

The report's mortality statistics rank counties based on the age-adjusted death rate, an adjustment designed to account for the age differences among various counties.

The following statistics represent the number of deaths per 100,000 residents:

Cause of Death

LA County

State Average

Healthy People Goal

All Causes

624.4

666.4

N/A

Lung Cancer

32.4

38.1

43.3

Female Breast Cancer

20.5

21.2

21.3

Prostate Cancer

20.8

21.8

28.2

Diabetes

23.4

21.1

N/A

Alzheimer's Disease

19.7

25.7

N/A

Coronary Heart Disease

151.1

137.1

162

Stroke

36.9

40.8

50

"Accidents"

22.3

29.7

17.1

Motor Vehicle Accidents

8.6

10.3

8

Suicide

7

9.4

4.8

Homicide

8.8

6.3

2.8

Drug-Induced Deaths

7.4

10.6

1.2

Influenza/Pneumonia

24.1

19.6

N/A

 

Morbidity statistics, which are shown as cases per 100,000 residents, include:

Disease

 

 

 

AIDS (13yrs +)

14.8

11.6

1

Chlamydia

431.1

377.7

N/A

Gonorrhea

97.3

79.7

19

Tuberculosis

8.5

7.2

1

Low Birthweight Infants

7.4

6.9

5


A copy of the full report, County Health Profiles 2010, is available online on the California Department of Public Health's website at http://www.cdph.ca.gov/.

 

Information on the Healthy People 2010 goals can be found at http://www.healthypeople.gov/.

 

For information on obesity, physical activity, nutrition, and tobacco control and prevention, visit the Public Health website at http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov.