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Higher rate of cancer, heart disease deaths here, study says

A recent “community health assessment” study commissioned by Floyd Memorial Hospital in New Albany says residents of Harrison, Floyd, and Washington counties have higher rates of death due to cancer and heart disease than the national average.
The study also determined that these counties have a higher rate of smokers than the national average, and almost 60 percent of residents are overweight, about the same percentage as the national average.
Twenty-nine percent of the people in Harrison, Floyd and Washington counties smoke, compared to 23 percent nationally.
Harrison County beat the national average for cronic drinkers with less than one percent cronic drinkers compared to five percent nationally.
Some health indicators mirrored or bettered the national average.
Of the residents studied, about 11 percent, said they have asthma (the national average is 10 percent). The rate of breast cancer in the three- county area is lower than in the rest of the nation, and the rate of high cholesterol is almost two percent lower in Harrison County than the national average .
The study, conducted last year, had three main components: a community health survey; a review of existing state and nationwide health risk factor data, and panels to survey opinions of community leaders, physicians and social service providers to identify health problems, gaps in service and other factors that might contribute to health concerns for residents.
Researchers asked residents questions about their health, smoking habits, physical activity, weight and other conditions, including mental health.
Dr. Rashidul Islam, the Harrison County health officer, said, “You can’t rely on information from a study such as this because you don’t know exactly how the information was collected.
“I see a rise in the cases of breast and prostate cancer, but that is most likely because we are more able to diagnose cancer quickly. We have made good progress in the rate of deaths from cancer in the last five years.
“I don’t know why we see more prostate cancer, but if I saw a real rise in the cancer rate here, I’d be the first to call your newspaper with the information.”
In the three-county area, almost 38 percent of residents rated their satisfaction with local health care as very good and about 85 percent of residents said they have a regular physician or health center where they receive health care. This stat is about equal to the national average.
The study indicated 24 percent of Harrison County residents have been warned that their blood pressure was high (the national average is about 23 percent). Eighty-two percent of residents with high blood pressure, the study revealed, are taking action to control their blood pressure.
In Harrison County, 17 percent of residents polled rated their overall health as fair or poor while the United States average is just more than 12 percent. Also, 25 percent of residents reported they have some sort of physical impairment as the result of a work-related illness or injury; the national average is about 18 percent.
Another area where Harrison County is above the national average (by nine percent) is in activity limitations due to physical impairment or health problems. The national average is about 15 percent with Harrison County reporting 24 percent.
Almost 1.5 percent more Harrison County residents said they did not take part in any type of leisure-time physical activity, more than the national average, but 29.4 percent did say they ate the recommended five or more servings of fruit and vegetables each day, equaling the national average.
About eight percent more Harrison County residents have seen a physician for a routine checkup the past year than Floyd and Washington residents. The three counties ranked about even in dental visits, and Floyd County led with the most residents having eye exams.