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Many Kentuckians Report Poor Health, Chronic Disease

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Many Kentuckians report they are in poor health, have been diagnosed with chronic diseases, and don’t have access to health care, according to 2007 data released today by the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH).

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Systems, a survey, conducted by the Division of Prevention and Quality Improvement in DPH, looks at several health indicators, such as diet and physical activity, to determine the health and lifestyle habits of Kentuckians.

According to the survey, almost a quarter (23.1 percent) of Kentucky adults rate their general health as fair or poor. In general, residents of Kentucky’s Appalachian counties reported higher rates of poor health and chronic diseases than those in non-Appalachian counties. In addition, Kentuckians with a high school degree or less and those with lower income levels reported higher rates of poor health and chronic diseases.

In terms of health care access, the latest BRFSS data found that 15.9 percent of adults reported a lack of health care coverage. Lack of access is highest among residents of Appalachia (21.5 percent); men (20.9 percent); and those ages 18-24 (31.4 percent).

“The BRFSS is a wonderful tool that allows us to paint a portrait of our state’s health status,” said William Hacker, M.D., DPH commissioner. “Each year, we use information from this survey to learn more about health risk behaviors; shape recommendations for preventive health practices; and determine to what extent Kentuckians have access to care, particularly for chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established the survey in 1984 to track health conditions and risk behaviors of U.S. adults.

The Kentucky BRFSS is the main source of non-reportable disease data in Kentucky broken down by demographics like gender, race, age group, income levels, education status and geographic areas such as Area Development Districts.

Among the survey’s other findings:

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* Almost a third (30.3 percent) of Kentucky adults reported they did not participate in any physical activities or exercise such as running, golf, gardening or walking for exercise, other than their regular jobs.

* More than 80 percent of Kentuckians reported they did not consume five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

* Around 70 percent of Kentuckians are overweight or obese.

* Kentucky adults reported some of the highest prevalence of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, stroke and heart disease, in the nation.

* Around 10 percent of Kentucky adults reported being told by a doctor that they had diabetes.

* Approximately 6 percent of Kentuckians reported they had been told by a doctor that they had coronary heart disease.

* 6 percent of Kentuckians reported they had been told by a doctor that they had suffered a heart attack.

* 3.5 percent of Kentuckians reported being told by a doctor that they had suffered a stroke.

* 28 percent of Kentuckians reported having smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and now smoke some days or every day.