Report: chronic illnesses are major causes of death
WARRENTON — Chronic illnesses are the major causes of death in Warren County.
That’s the conclusion of the Warren County 2012 State of the County Health Report, which was released recently by the Warren County Health Department.
Chronic illnesses include diabetes, cancer, heart disease, blood pressure, stroke and related conditions.
The positive side of these findings is that they are controllable. They can be reduced if individuals make changes in their lifestyles. By eating better, getting more exercise, stopping the use of tobacco and limiting the use of alcohol, individuals can reduce their likelihood of suffering from these diseases.
The Healthy Carolinians of Warren County Partnership is leading the effort to promote healthy lifestyles.
The State of the County Health Report tracks health trends over the past few years and compares local data with statewide data.
Death rates in Warren County from chronic illnesses have declined in the past 10 years. The report presents death rates for five-year periods. Between 1994-1998 and 2004-2008, Warren County death rates from diabetes declined by 26 percent; from cancer, 20.3 percent; from heart disease, 7 percent; and from stroke, 45.5 percent.
Warren County’s death rates from chronic illnesses during the 2004-2008 period were lower than statewide death rates for diabetes, cancer and stroke. However, Warren County’s death rate from heart disease, though declining, was still 17 percent higher than the statewide rate.
For sexually transmitted diseases, Warren County’s rate of incidence of chlamydia was higher than the statewide rate for the years 2007 through 2010 but had dropped below the statewide rate by 2011. The rate of gonorrhea in Warren County was higher than the statewide rate for each year from 2007 through 2011.
The rate of pregnancies among Warren County females ages 15 to 19 was 23 percent higher than the statewide rate in 2010.
Conditions that could negatively affect the health of Warren County residents include the lack of health care insurance by many residents, absence of a hospital and small numbers of primary care physicians and dentists.
A community health assessment conducted in 2010 identified issues of most concern to county residents, including use of drugs and alcohol, school dropouts, poverty, unemployment as well as lack of affordable health services, health insurance and recreational facilities.
Based on the community assessment and health statistics, the Healthy Carolinians of Warren County Partnership identified six areas of concern:
• Physical activity and nutrition.
• Sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies.
• Tobacco use.
• Substance abuse.
• Injuries involving motor vehicles and injuries to infants.
• Mental health.
The partnership will focus on the first two concerns for the next four years.
To promote fitness and good nutrition, the group will promote Pickleball, Family Play Day and Faith Farming, a project to get churches involved in Eat Smart/Move More training.
To address the STD/pregnancy issue, the partnership has developed a brochure, published newspaper articles and is planning a public forum to discuss the topic.
The Warren County Health Department has several programs that promote preventive health. In addition, there are a number of community initiatives, including:
• Healthy Living for a Lifetime provides free health screenings as well as educational materials.
• FoodCorps, sponsored by North Carolina 4-H and N.C. State University, promotes health nutrition with local students.
• A Safe Kids North Central Coalition is being formed with neighboring counties.
• A Community Transformation Grant, authorized through the Affordable Care Act of 2010, has been awarded to a nine-county region, including Warren County. The grant will be used to support tobacco-free living, active living, healthy eating and evidence-based preventive services.
Healthy Carolinians of Warren County continues collaborative efforts with the Warren County Health Department, local government officials, county agencies, Warren County Schools and civic organizations to reduce or eliminate the health issues affecting county residents.
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