Do You Live in a Heart-Healthy City?

Go Red for Women, in a study released recently, rated the best and least "Heart-Friendly" cities for women in the United States.

Go Red for Women, in a study released recently, rated the best and least "Heart-Friendly" cities for women in the United States. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN, was named the "Most Heart-Friendly for Women," while Nashville-Davidson-Murfessboro, TN, was noted as the “Least Heart-Friendly for Women” in the study, which took 22 factors into account in formulating the ratings.

The study was conducted by Sperling’s Best Places and included factors that fell into three main areas:

  • Risk Indication — factors that may lead to heart disease.
  • Health Status — metrics that indicate the current state of heart health.
  • Heart Disease Statistics — measurement of heart disease on the population.

The factors utilized included:

• Cardiac mortality rates for women, age adjusted.

• Prescriptions for control of hypertension per capita.

• Prescriptions for control of high cholesterol per capita.

• Physician diagnosis of diabetes among women.

• Physician diagnosis of hypertension among women.

• Physician diagnosis of high cholesterol among women.

• Obesity (BMI, for women).

• Smoking cigarettes among women.

• Alcohol use among women.

• Physicians in area per capita.

• Cardiologists in area per capita.

• State legislation for smoke-free workplaces and public places.

• Percent of women having a health plan.

• Percent of women having the ability to afford health care.

• Percent of women having routine checkups.

• Healthy eating among women.

• Regular exercise among women.

• Commuting by bicycle or walking.

• Stress index.

• Teaching hospitals per capita.

• Hospitals with emergrency room.

• Fast food outlets per capita.

Metro areas in the study received points for each of the criteria based on their relation to the cities’ scores in that data category. Overall, category scores were weighted and aggregated to determine an overall “Heart-Friendly’’ index for each metro area.

The 200 Metro areas were divided into three categories:

  • Mega metros of over 1.45 million in population.
  • Mid-size metros of 560,000-1.45 million.
  • All other metros with population fewer than 560,000.

Washington, DC, finished second to Minneapolis-St. Paul among Mega metros, with San Francisco, Denver, Boston, Seattle, Portland, San Diego, Los Angeles and Phoenix rounding out the top 10.

Salt Lake City ranked first among mid-size metros, followed by Honolulu, Colorado Springs, Rochester, Albuquerque, Oxnard-Thousand Oaks, Ventura, Bridgeport-Stamford, Hartford, Tucson and Boise.

Among the smaller metros, Boulder rated best, followed by Portland (ME), San Luis Obispo (CA), Fort Collins (Col.), Ann Arbor, Santa Cruz (Calif.), Charlottesville (VA), Provo (UT), Bellingham(WA) and Barnstable (MA.).

The five cities rated the “Least Heart Friendly for Women” were Nashville, St. Louis, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Dallas-Fort Worth. Go Red for Women also reminds, whether you live in a Heart-Friendly city or not, the key factors in heart health are in the individual’s hands. Diet, exercise and lifestyle are the main ingredients to better heart health.

Individually, I was surprised one of the factors not included were hospitals per capita with a cardiac catheterization lab in addition to an emergency room. Such facilities are equipped to immediately help a person suffering a heart attack. As for the emphasis on prevention, however, the study’s data proved both interesting and useful.