Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Blaine County life expectancy tops in Idaho

Express Staff Writer

A county-by-county life-expectancy study begun at Harvard University ranked Blaine County in 32nd place among the 3,141 counties in the nation and first in the state of Idaho.

The study concluded that Blaine County has an average life expectancy of 80.8 years. It took into account race, income, county of origin and homicide rates outlining "Eight Americas"—or distinct ethnic-economic regions.

For each of the eight groups, the researchers led by Christopher Murray estimated life expectancy, the risk of mortality from specific diseases, the proportion of people who had health insurance, and people's routine encounters with health-care services. They describe their eight Americas as follows: Asians, northland low-income rural whites, Middle America, low-income whites in Appalachia and the Mississippi Valley, western Native Americans, black Middle America, low-income Southern rural blacks, and high-risk urban blacks.

Asian-American women living in Bergen County, N.J., were found to have the highest life expectancy, with the average woman living to the age of 91. Native American men living on or near reservations in South Dakota came out with the lowest figure, with an estimated life expectancy of only 58.

The creation of "race-county" combinations for the study was intended to outline disparities that might be important factors in establishing public health policy around the nation.

Untimely deaths due to chronic disease and accidents remain the leading cause of death in the low-life-expectancy counties. The state of Idaho is ranked 15th in the nation, with an average life span of 77.9 years. Hawaii was ranked No. 1 among states, with an average life expectancy of 80 years.

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