Residence, race might send you to early grave
People live longer in city’s wealthier neighborhoods
November 26, 2013
Where you live in Cincinnati and your race help to determine how long you will live – by a difference of as much as 20 years.
If you live in South Fairmount, Avondale, or a handful of other lower-income or predominantly black or urban Appalachian neighborhoods, your life expectancy is 66.4 to 68.2 years.
Yet if you live in Mount Lookout, Columbia Tusculum, Hyde Park, or one of the city’s other wealthier and largely white communities, your life expectancy is 83.2 to 87.8 years.
The new data come from the Cincinnati Health department, which will release the information Tuesday. A larger, community-wide discussion is planned for Jan. 10.
The top four causes of death in the city are cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, and lower-respiratory disease, such as asthma and lung cancer related to smoking.
Homicide is listed as one of the top 10 causes of death. The annual record for the city is 88 homicides in 2006. The number dropped to 53 in 2012, but stood at 69 through the weekend.
Researchers analyzed every death record in Cincinnati from 2001 through 2009 to create the data set. They measured death in u.S. Census tracts and fitted them to neighborhood boundaries. Health department officials hope this analysis can be used to create base knowledge of health disparities within the city and spur work on how they can be reduced.
“Our objective is to develop some level of intervention to have greater equity in our community,” said Cincinnati Health Commissioner Noble Maseru.
The average life expectancy in the united States is 78.6 years. Of the 47 Cincinnati neighborhood groups measured, only 14 had rates that were better than the national average. Cincinnati’s average for 2001–09 was 76.7 years.
Such dramatic variations in life expectancy are not uncommon in many large American cities. New Orleans, Kansas City, and Minneapolis are three cities where a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study found large discrepancies. urban areas have higher death rates because, generally, their populations are older, poorer, and sicker with chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Maseru and Camille Jones, a physician and assistant health commissioner, said the department wants to work with community councils to create or support wellness committees, possibly like health ministries in many predominantly African-American churches.
In an interview with the Enquirer, they said they would like to work within city government to create positive effects on the “built environment,” issues that range from the placement of industry and grocery stores to helping improve how safely residents can walk or ride bicycles within their communities.
“It goes to governance and policy and appropriation of resources,” Maseru said.
Ultimately, they said, they want to work with civic organizations and academicians to help improve health for residents across the city.
The new data also show that the life expectancy in Cincinnati for African-American men is 10 years less than white men, 63.8 years to 73.8 years. The life expectancy for black women is 72.4 years, compared with 79 years for white women.
The gap in life expectancy for black men and white men in Cincinnati is wider than the national numbers, 70.8 years for African-Americans and 76.2 for white men.
In August, the Enquirer reported on local and national efforts to reduce critical health disparities between African-Americans and white Americans.
Infant mortality rates are higher for women of color, who are at greater risk to have their babies die before age 1. In Hamilton County, the rate for African-Americans is 16.9 deaths for every 1,000 live births and is 9.8 for Hispanic women. For whites, it is 6.4.
Death from respiratory disease is a major factor in shorter life expectancies in some near-West Side Cincinnati neighborhoods: Lower Price Hill, Sedamsville, Riverside, and Camp Washington.
“It’s air quality and smoking,” Jones said.
Drug-related deaths, caused primarily by heroin and abuse of prescription opioids, such as OxyContin and Percocet, are an increasing reason for premature death, Maseru said.
The fve neighborhoods with the highest life expectancies are Mount Lookout/Columbia Tusculum (87.8 years), North Avondale/Paddock Hills (87.1), Mount Adams (86.4), Mount Lookout (85.9), and Hyde Park (83.2).
The difference between North Avondale/Paddock Hills and adjacent Avondale to the south is dramatic, 18.9 years.
“There is no one reason for the differences,” Maseru said.
“Poverty would be the [catchall]. The World Health Organization takes into account poverty, income, and education.”