A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds a troubling trend: Americans in rural areas are dying faster from preventable causes than those living in urban ones.

“Rural residents tend to be sicker and poorer and have worse health outcomes than do their non rural peers," said CDC Senior Health Scientist Macarena C. Garcia. "That said, rural challenges are not uniform and are complicated by geographic characteristics.”

What You Need To Know

  • A CDC report on data from 2010-2022 found that Americans in rural areas consistently die earlier from preventable causes than those living in urban areas

  •  CDC cites the lack of availability and distance between services like cancer screenings as part of the cause

  •  In response, the CDC says local clinicians should hold more screenings and services to cater to rural Americans

The study, which researched preventable deaths between 2010 to 2022, found that discrepancies existed in all of the five leading causes of preventable death: cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, heart disease, stroke and unintentional deaths, like car accidents or overdoses.

Officials say that access to health care can be a deciding factor.

“Sometimes, people have to drive 2-3 hours to the nearest center that provides specialty care.," Garcia said. "So that means people go without preventive services. People in rural areas likely have lower rates of screening and certainly have less access to treatment.”

In response, the CDC says rural clinicians can make several changes to try and bridge the divide between rural and urban, such as increasing high blood pressure and cancer screenings for patients. At the same time, local, state and federal government must take steps to reinvest in rural communities to improve overall health.

“This includes strengthening rural institutions, including local public health departments, addressing predictors of health and leveraging rural strengths and assets such as high levels of social connectedness, self-reliance and a shared history," Garcia said.