According to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Florida is the worst in the nation for heart disease. And here's the worst news of all. Northwest Florida is leading the way.
Okaloosa 474 (5)
Franklin 440 (4)
Liberty 422 (3)
*per 100,000 people
Bay County has the third highest incident of heart disease in the state. According to the figures, for every 100-thousand people in Bay County, 522 were hospitalized with some form of heart disease.
The only other counties with a higher rate are Holmes (Bonifay) at 565-people per 100-thousand, and Washington (Chipley) at 535.
Walton County (DeFuniak Springs) is fourth at 507, followed by Jackson (Marianna) at 504, Calhoun (Blountstown) with 503, Gulf County (Port St. Joe) had 487, and Okaloosa (Ft. Walton Beach) came in 8th in the state with 474.
The survey rates counties in groups of 1-to-5, with category-5 having the highest rates of heart disease. All 8-of those counties were category 5. Franklin fared a bit better, landing in category-4, with a rate of 440, and Liberty County fell into category-3, with a rate of 422.
Researchers based their findings on Medicare records for patients hospitalized for heart disease.
The survey took into account a lot of different factors, including race and ethnic background, weight and income levels, for people 35-years of age and older. The study spanned all hospitalizations between 2000-and-2006.
The head of the research team attributed higher rates to unhealthy diet and lack of exercise. But she also says some areas had higher rates because of less access to healthy foods such as fresh produce, fewer safe places for exercise, and limited access to proper medical care.