Heart Disease, Cancer Leading Causes of Death in CT; Septicemia Deaths Among Highest in USA

Heart disease, cancer and accidents were the leading causes of death in Connecticut according to data released by the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The other major causes of death in Connecticut include chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza/pneumonia, kidney disease and septicemia. In all but two instances, Connecticut ranked in the lowest quintile among the states, ranking 40th in the rate of heart disease deaths, 43rd in cancer deaths, 48th in dCDC_logo2eaths due to diabetes, and 48th in deaths caused by stroke.  The state ranked 15th, however, in deaths caused by septicemia and 35th in accidental deaths.

Septicemia, or sepsis, is a life-threatening complication of an infection in the bloodstream. Sepsis is the body’s overwhelming response to infection which can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death. It kills 258,000 Americans each year, according to the Sepsis Alliance, but remains largely unknown. Although it is among the 10 most frequent causes of death nationwide, in a 2015 online survey of 2,000 participants, only 47 percent of Americans were aware of sepsis, the Alliance reported. The deaths this year of actress Patty Duke and boxing legend Muhammad Ali have brought some increased attention to sepsis.causes

Connecticut had 578 recorded deaths caused by septicemia, a rate of 12.6 per 100,000 total population, in 2014, according to the CDC data.  The United States rate was 10.7.  The highest death rates from septicemia were in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, New Jersey, Kentucky, Arkansas, Maryland, Georgia, and Virginia.

There were 7,018 deaths from heart disease and 6,621 from cancer in Connecticut in 2014, according to the data.  The next most frequent cause of death, accidents, totaled 1,642, followed by chronic lower respiratory diseases, which caused, 1,368 deaths, and stroke, which caused 1,266.

Connecticut’s rate of deaths per thousand population by stroke, 26.3, is among the nation’s lowest.  The national rate is 36.5.  The only states with lower rates of stroke deaths are Rhode Island and New York.  Connecticut is tied with Arizona, just ahead of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Wyoming.  The highest rate of deaths from stroke are in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana and Arkansas.

Heart disease has long been the leading cause of death for all U.S. states, with cancer as the second leading cause, according to the CDC. In 1990, Alaska became the first state to experience a switch in ranks between these two causes. In 2000, Minnesota experienced the same switch. As of 2014, there are now 22 states with cancer as the leading cause of death.  Heart disease remains the leading cause in Connecticut.

In 2013, the leading causes of death in Connecticut were heart disease (7.090), cancer (6,619), chronic lower respiratory diseases, accidents, stroke, alzheimer's disease, diabetes, influenze/pneumonia, kidney disease and suicide.


Connecticut Leads the Nation in Preventative Health Care

Among the nation’s 34 most populous states, the rate of preventive health care visits was higher in Connecticut than any state in the nation.  Data released this month from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics also found that the rate of preventive care visits to primary care physicians, among the 34 most populous states, exceeded the national rate in Connecticut more than elsewhere. Preventive care visits such as general medical examinations, prenatal visits, and well-baby visits give physicians and other health professionals the opportunity to screen for diseases or conditions, as well as to promote healthy behaviors that may delay or prevent these conditions and reduce subsequent use of emergency or inpatient care.nchs_fb_identifier

In this report, the rate of preventive care visits to office-based physicians is examined by state, patient demographics, and physician specialty. Estimates are based on data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS), a nationally representative survey of visits to office-based physicians.

Overall, preventive care visit rates were higher for children under age 18 years (73.2 per 100 persons) and for those aged 65 and over (81.1 per 100 persons) than for adults aged 18–44 (53.2 per 100 persons) and 45–64 (51.8 per 100 persons).  The preventive care visit rates for women aged 18–44 (87.1 per 100 women) and 45–64 (60.5 per 100 women) exceeded the rates for men in those age groups (18.5 and 42.5 per 100 men, respectively).

doctorThe rate of preventive care visits in the 34 most populous states ranged from 33.1 visits per 100 persons in Arkansas to 120 visits per 100 persons in Connecticut.  Among those 34 states, the rate of preventive care visits was lower than the national rate in 11 states (Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Washington).  The national average was 61.4 visits per 100 persons.  The data is from 2012, the most recent year available from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey.

In 2012, 35.7 preventive care visits were made to primary care physicians for every 100 persons across the United States.  In Connecticut, primary care physician preventative care visits were made 59.3 times per 100 people, the highest percentage in the nation.  In Massachusetts, the rate was 53.1, in Colorado 51.7, in Florida 48.7 in Georgia 43.3, in Texas 42.8 and in Maryland 42.2.  Overall, 58.2 percent of preventive care visits were made to primary care physicians, according to the CDC data.  Primary care physicians include office-based physicians in the specialties of family or general medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics.1u1-c15ecce858

The female rate (76.6 visits per 100 females) of preventative care visits exceeded the male rate (45.4 visits per 100 males) by 69 percent. The percentage of preventive care visits to primary care physicians, however, made by males (76.3%) exceeded those made by females (48.0%). The data suggests that women tend to make their preventative care visits to physicians other than their primary care physician, with the report’s summary suggestion. this “may be related to gynecological or obstetric care for women.”

In 2012, the NAMCS survey sample size was increased fivefold to allow for state-level estimates in the 34 most populous states for the first time.

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Individuals with Depression Not Seeking Help from Mental Health Professionals, Study Finds

As the public conversation about mental health continues, new federal data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that nearly two-thirds of individuals who have severe depression do not seek the assistance of mental health professionals. The report, by the National Center for Health Statistics within CDC, also found that people with mild depressive symptoms, as well as those with moderate or severe depressive symptoms, reported difficulties with work, home, and social activities related to their symptoms. For those with severe depression, nearly 90 percent reported such difficulties.  Nearly 3 in 4 with moderate depression also reported having difficulty in those everyday situations.

Studies have shown that the most effective treatment for depression, especially for severe depression, is a combination of medication and therapy. Although medication can be prescribed by a primary care physician, therapy is generally provided by a mental health professional.Depression

The study, which covered 2009-2012, found:

  • 7.6% of Americans (aged 12 and over) had depression (defined as moderate or severe depressive symptoms in the past 2 weeks). Depression was more prevalent among females and individuals age 40–59.
  • About 3% of Americans (aged 12 and over) had severe depressive symptoms, while almost 78% had no symptoms.
  • People living below the poverty level were nearly 2½ times more likely to have depression than those at or above the poverty level.
  • Almost 43% of persons with severe depressive symptoms reported serious difficulties in work, home, and social activities. Of those with severe symptoms, 35% reported having contact with a mental health professional in the past year.

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 20 million people in the United States have depression. Its symptoms go beyond feeling sad for a few days, and interfere with people's daily lives, causing energy loss, feelings of worthlessness, problems with sleeping, or thoughts of death or suicide.CDC_logo2

A report by the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) issued earlier this year found that 1 in 6 Connecticut adults (16.7 percent) reported having been told they had a depressive disorder. Women were significantly more likely to have been told they had a depressive disorder (19.0 percent) compared to men (14.2 percent).The likelihood of having been diagnosed with a depressive disorder decreased significantly for each increase in income range, the study found.  The DPH data is from 2012.

According to the CDC, depression is a serious medical illness with mood, cognitive, and physical symptoms. Depression is associated with higher rates of chronic disease, increased use of health care facilities, and impaired functioning.  Its causes may be genetic, environmental, psychological or biochemical.  Numerous studies have also shown that individuals with depression have more functional limitations than those without depression. The DPH study points out that “Depressive disorders may interfere with a person’s work and daily activities and prevent them from functioning normally. Some forms of depression develop under unique circumstances; others occur in episodes or may be longer-term.”

Vaccinating Babies: CT Ranks #6 in the Nation

Connecticut is ranked #6 in the nation in the percentage of children, between 19 months and 35 months old, who have been inoculated with the seven vaccines recommended by the nation’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The data, compiled by Bloomberg.com, indicates that 74.5 percent of Connecticut children have all seven vaccines.  The states with the highest overall percentage are Mississippi (76.0%), New Hampshire (75.8%), Kentucky (75.1%), Georgia (75.0%), and Tennessee (74.6%).  Rounding out the top ten behind Connecticut are North Dakota (74.3%), Wisconsin (73.3%), Virginia (72.8%) and Nebraska (72.5%).

The specific vaccinations, and the percentage of Connecticut children who have been inoculated, are: DTaP for Diptheria, Tetnus, and Pertussus, also known as Whooping Cough (90.4%), polio (96.4%), MMR for measles, mumps, and rubella, (95.3%), Hib for influenza type B (86.5%), PCV (95.2%) and hepatitis B (93.1%).

The CDC points out that vaccines contain the same germs that cause disease. (For example, measles vaccine contains measles virus, and Hib vaccine contains Hib bacteria.) But they have been either killed or weakened to the point that they don’t make individuals sick, accordinbabyg to the CDC. Some vaccines contain only a part of the disease germ.

A vaccine stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies, exactly like it would if an individual were exposed to the disease. After getting vaccinated, individuals  develop immunity to that disease, without having to get the disease first.  This is what makes vaccines such powerful medicine, the agency stresses --  unlike most medicines, which treat or cure diseases, vaccines prevent them.

Connecticut is #1 in the nation in the percentage of children, 95.2 percent, having been vaccinated for chickenpox, and also had the highest percentage of children taking the PCV vaccine which targets the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia.  The state also ranked #2 in the percentage of young children vaccinated with the MMR, #3 in DTap and Hib, #5 in the polio vaccine, and #9 in the percentage of hepatitis B vaccines administered.

The data utilized in the state-by-state rankings, which was published this month, are for the period July 2011 through June 2012, the latest available according to Bloomberg.com.  The CDC produces a vaccination schedule guide with age-specific vaccination information.  The rankings were compiled just ahead of Children's Health Month, which is observed throughout October led by the U.S. Office of Children's Health Protection and the Environment.a Protection Agency.

Among other states in the region, New York ranked #46, with 61.5 percent of children inoculated, Maine ranked #26, Rhode Island #24 and Massachusetts #20.