Despite improvements, disparities still persist among racial/ethnic groups.
Chronic diseases and conditions such as cancer, heart disease, chronic lung disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity accounted for 57% of the deaths in Travis County in 2013 and are among the most common, costly and preventable of all health problems. In Travis County, cancer surpassed heart disease as the leading cause of death in 2007 and has remained the leading cause of death since that time. In contrast, heart disease is still the leading cause of death in Texas and the nation and has been so since 1950.
Despite improvements, disparities in mortality rates still persist among racial/ethnic groups. The mortality rates for cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes are highest among African Americans. The highest mortality rate for chronic lung cancer is among Whites. Hispanics have lower mortality rates than African Americans for the five chronic diseases but higher mortality rates than Whites for diabetes and stroke.
As of 2014, it is estimated that 7.2% of Travis County adults (approximately 82,000 adults) have been diagnosed with diabetes, 20.5% (236,000 adults) are obese, and 10.7% (123,000 adults) currently smoke. Dramatic reductions in smoking rates have been seen in Travis County, and 2014 prevalence rates are comparable to the lowest rates in the nation (Utah). Yet tobacco use still remains the leading cause of preventable death in Travis County, causing more deaths than AIDS, crack, heroin, cocaine, alcohol, car accidents, fire and murder – COMBINED.
“Chronic diseases are also very costly, particularly hospitalizations,” said Dr. Phil Huang, Medical Director, Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services. “In 2013, there were 12,185 hospitalizations in Travis County due to chronic diseases, accounting for $702.2 million in charges. Cancer and heart disease accounted for the bulk of chronic disease hospitalizations totaling $406.4 million.”