BMJ open 2017 11 037(11) e018307 doi 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-018307
The study aimed (1) to quantify differences in modifiable risk factors between urban and rural populations, and (2) to determine the number of rural cardiovascular disease (CVD) and ischaemic heart disease (IHD) deaths that could be averted or delayed if risk factor levels in rural areas were equivalent to metropolitan areas.
National population estimates, risk factor prevalence, CVD and IHD deaths data were analysed by rurality using a macrosimulation Preventable Risk Integrated Model for chronic disease risk. Uncertainty analysis was conducted using a Monte Carlo simulation of 10 000 iterations to calculate 95% credible intervals (CIs).
National data sets of men and women over the age of 18 years living in urban and rural Australia.
If people living in rural Australia had the same levels of risk factors as those in metropolitan areas, approximately 1461 (95% CI 1107 to 1791) deaths could be delayed from CVD annually. Of these CVD deaths, 793 (95% CI 506 to 1065) would be from IHD. The IHD mortality gap between metropolitan and rural populations would be reduced by 38.2% (95% CI 24.4% to 50.6%).
A significant portion of deaths from CVD and IHD could be averted with improvements in risk factors; more than one-third of the excess IHD deaths in rural Australia were attributed to differences in risk factors. As much as two-thirds of the increased IHD mortality rate in rural areas could not be accounted for by modifiable risk factors, however, and this requires further investigation.