Alabama is not well.The state has one of the highest rates of death from heart disease in the nation, besting even the national average.Diabetes runs rampant, as does hypertension. Cancer is the …
Alabama is not well.
The state has one of the highest rates of death from heart disease in the nation, besting even the national average.
Diabetes runs rampant, as does hypertension. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the state.
All of this continues year to year despite the fact the rate of each of these diseases can be lessened through healthier behavior such as not smoking, weight loss, exercise and nutrition. Nearly 40% of the state is battling obesity.
This year, the Alabama Department of Public Health launched the Alabama Health Dashboard. The online information hub allows users to look up health statistics by individual county over a three-year stretch from 2018 to 2020.
Developed through a collaborative process that combined internal data collection and community-driven feedback, health department officials said the hope is that easy access to demographic information about chronic health issues will give more power to patients and providers to plan a way to improve.
"We are excited to develop new opportunities to distribute data to our partners and the public," State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said on upon the website's release. "By having data readily available, we can better communicate Alabama's health status with partners while planning health outcome improvements."
Organizations that work to advance public policies like access to health care said the dashboard is a good start to addressing many of Alabama's health issues.
"This gives us a snapshot of what is going on in the community," said Jennifer Harris, health policy advocate with Alabama Arise.
Harris said none of the metrics outlined in the dashboard are shocking.
"Most people will probably not find anything that stands out or that they may not have already known," she said, adding that the report can help community members understand what the need is locally and hopefully spur them to action.
"People should look at this and think about their own life experience and how their own community is shaped by some of these issues and consider how they can get involved," she said.
Residents in Baldwin County can breathe a little easier knowing that they fare better than most of the state in all categories included in the new Alabama Health Dashboard. Except in three areas: deaths due to diabetes, Alzheimer's and firearms.
The county experienced a marked increase in the number of deaths in each of these areas over just two years.
Below are the numbers for Baldwin County included on the Alabama Department of Health's dashboard.
Access to care
Baldwin County adults uninsured in 2018: 10.2%
In 2020: 9.5%
Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in Alabama.
The four most common are coronary artery disease, heart failure, heart attacks and stroke. Cardiovascular diseases are generally caused by plaque buildup in the arteries, which causes the arteries to narrow over time, partially or totally blocking the blood flow to other parts of the body.
Cardiovascular diseases are considered an aging malady meaning risk increases with age. The Alabama Department of Health noted that those without limited access to healthy and affordable food and residents of low-income neighborhoods with little green spaces have higher rates of the disease.
Cardiovascular mortality rate, Baldwin, 2018: 263.7 per 100,000 people
In 2020: 255.1 per 100,000 people
Cigarettes have been the leading cause of preventable death nationwide since 1965. Despite a 67% decrease across the U.S. since that year, vaping products have re-introduced nicotine to a new generation causing health issues linked to the drug to continue.
The percentage of adults smoking in Baldwin, 2018: 17.9%
In 2020: 15.5%
Deaths related to diabetes and the number of adults who were told they have diabetes or have pre-diabetes are numbers that all skyrocketed in Baldwin County from 2018 to 2020.
The number of Baldwin adults who were told they had diabetes in 2018 was 14.5%. That number rose to 15.7% in 2020.
The number of Baldwin adults who were told they had prediabetes in 2018 was 8.4%. That rose to 10.7% in 2020.
The most stunning jump of all the county's metrics came from deaths due to diabetes.
In 2018, 16.8 per 100,000 people died of diabetes-related complications.
In 2020, that number jumped to 47.1 per 100,000.
It is projected that 25% of the population will by 65 by 2060. That means a lot of healthcare providers will be dealing with diseases that arrive later in life. In Baldwin County, popular for years among retirees, that trend can already be seen as the number of people who succumbed to Alzheimer's doubled between 2018 and 2020.
In 2018, the Alzheimer's mortality rate in Baldwin was 38.53 per 100,000 people.
In 2020: 68.0 per 100,000 people
The dashboard added a category to help rate the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship and age that affect a wide range of health, well-being and quality of life and contributes to health disparities and inequity.
Officials said income disparities, education, poverty, unemployment, food insecurity, housing and family social support services need to be addressed as a system to build environments that contribute to wellness and support opportunities for healthy choices.
In 2018, the per capita income for Baldwin County was $31,203.
In 2020: $33,751
The number of families using food stamps in 2018 in Baldwin County was: 7.5%
In 2020, Alabama ranked sixth nationally for having the worst infant mortality rate.
The study noted that Black mothers have double the infant mortality rate as white mothers, which is described as the death of a baby before or during delivery.
In 2018, the teen pregnancy rate in Baldwin County was: 10.9 per 1,000 births.
In 2020: 7.5 per 1,000 births
In 2018, the inadequate prenatal care, which indicates the number of mothers who did not receive care in the first four months of pregnancy in Baldwin, was 18.9%.
In 2020, that number went up to 24.4%.
In 2018, the number of low-birth-weight babies, those born weighing less than 5.5 pounds, in Baldwin County was 8.6% of all births.
In 2020: 8.9%.
In 2018, the infant mortality rate, which measures the number of children that die within the first 12 months of life, in Baldwin was 4.4 per 1,000 births.
In 2020, that number remained the same, 4.4 per 1,000 births.
In 2019, the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting System noted that the motivation for single-bias hate crime incidents across the U.S. targeted victims for their race, religion and sexual orientation. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in five women and nearly one in seven men in the U.S. have experienced some form of intimate partner violence during their lifetime.
In 2018, in Baldwin County: 25 deaths
In 2020: 34 deaths
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Alabama. The four top types of cancer residents are facing here are colorectal, female breast, lung and prostate. Those four types represent more than 50% of all new tumors reported to the Alabama Statewide Cancer Registry in 2020. The Alabama Department of Public Health noted on the dashboard that instances of each type of cancer can be lessened through healthy behavior such as not smoking, weight loss, exercise and nutrition.
In 2018, the overall cancer mortality rate in Baldwin County: 250.4 per 100,000 people
In 2020: 221.1 per 100,000 people