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County sees decrease in mortality rate

Health Services Agency attributes decline to public education, medical advances

POSTED August 2, 2011 10:55 p.m.

The Stanislaus County Health Services Agency released its annual public health report in April, and the diagnosis is good for the county.

The overall county mortality rate decreased 10.2 percent over a 10-year period. The overall reduction of deaths from chronic disease in the county is attributed both to a change in the behavior of county residents and advances in medical care.

The report includes data taken between the years 2000 and 2009. The information was taken from death certificates registered by Public Health, and because the review process on these records takes up to 18 months, the most recent data available is from 2009. Data was also provided for mortality rates due to cardiovascular disease, stroke and cancer. These are among the top five causes of death nationally and locally. The World Health Organization cites four common but modifiable behaviors – tobacco use, insufficient physical activity, poor eating habits and excessive alcohol use — for much of the mortality related to chronic disease.

The 2011 Annual Public Health Report attributes the decline in mortality rates from heart disease, stroke, and cancer to prevention programs, public education and awareness campaigns, changes and advances in medical practice, and adoption of policies that reduce chronic disease risk factors.

Locally, Emanuel Medical Center contributed to the decreasing mortality rates from cardiovascular disease, cancer and stroke.  Four years ago Emanuel Medical Center opened a cancer center that could provide cancer care locally.

Since 2000, the county mortality rate from cancer has decreased by 9.5 percent. Emanuel recently added several services that they hope will further decrease mortality rates from cancer. The Ruby E. Bergman Women’s Diagnostic Center added a Breast Health Navigator and a full-time mammographer to its staff.

Stanislaus County saw a 27.6 percent decrease in cardiovascular mortality rates between 2000 and 2009. Emanuel Medical Center opened the community’s only Cardiac Cath and Intervention Lab in 2010, which preformed Turlock’s first open heart surgery in May of 2011. 

Although Stanislaus County significantly decreased its mortality rates, it did not meet the federal government’s Healthy People Initiative Goals for reduction of mortality rates from coronary heart disease or cancer. It did, however, exceed the goal for reduction of stroke related deaths.

To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail agoodwin@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.

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