Heart Disease Rates Remain High In Lambton

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The County of Lambton Community Health Services Department has released a Health Status Report on Mortality and Chronic Disease. This report provides an overview of mortality rates in Lambton County and looks specifically at chronic disease prevalence, hospitalization and emergency room visit rates. It is the third in a series of reports that will provide a comprehensive overview of health status indicators for Lambton County.

Data provided by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care were analyzed and reported for the years 1986 to 2006.

The report revealed that cardiovascular disease, particularly ischemic heart disease, continues to represent the greatest burden on the population, the greatest impact on the health care system and is the leading cause of death. Crystal Palleschi, Epidemiologist for the department adds, “While this is true throughout the southwest region and Ontario, males and females in Lambton County are affected at significantly higher rates. It’s something we need to pay attention to, and understand better.”

Other highlights of the report include:

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• Prevalence rates of asthma in Lambton were similar to regional and provincial rates, while rates of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) were slightly higher in Lambton. Hospitalization rates for asthma and COPD were similar in Lambton and Ontario, but emergency room visit rates were significantly higher.

• Prevalence rates of diabetes in Lambton were similar to regional and provincial rates. Use of health services was higher among Lambton residents with diabetes compared to Ontario residents with the disease. Mortality rates due to diabetes were higher in Lambton versus Ontario for males, but not for females.

• Chronic disease related emergency room visit rates were significantly higher in Lambton versus Ontario. This significant impact on emergency health services may be due to how Lambton residents access primary care.

“At least 80% of cases of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes could be prevented through healthy diet, regular physical activity and avoidance of tobacco products” said Dr. Chris Greensmith, (A) Medical Officer of Health for the County of Lambton. “Programs that aim to reduce these risk factors can substantially reduce the burden of chronic disease. Past prevention efforts have put the emphasis on individual behaviour change, but we now understand that we also need to work as a community to influence the social, economic and environmental factors that impact community health.”

Lana Smith, Nutritionist for Community Health Services and Healthy Living Lambton Coordinator says “This report reinforces the need for integrated prevention strategies that help make the healthy choice the easy choice. Access to recreational walking and cycling trails, school breakfast programs and smoking cessation programs are just a few examples of community supports to healthier lifestyles. Healthy Living Lambton will continue to provide effective health promotion programs in life settings such as work, school and the community to reach target populations and address the multiple risk factors for chronic disease prevention.”

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