Incident Cerebrovascular Disease in Rural and Urban Alberta
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STUDY OBJECTIVE: This study examines the pattern of incidence and health service utilisation of cerebrovascular disease cases in urban and rural areas within a publicly funded health care system. DESIGN: A population-based study covering a large geographic region, using population-wide administrative health data. Age- and sex-standardised incidence and mortality rates were calculated for rural and urban areas. Final status (discharge or death), place of service and place of residence were reported for all cases across several different subsets of cerebrovascular disease. SETTING: The province of Alberta, located in western Canada. PARTICIPANTS: Incident cases of cerebrovascular disease (stroke and transient ischaemic attack) and 4 different definitions of incident stroke were identified from data on emergency department admissions in the 1999/2000 fiscal year. MAIN RESULTS: The rate of cerebrovascular disease per 10,000 was similar between urban (13.24) and rural (13.82) areas. Rural residents frequently reported their incident episode to urban emergency departments. Although the mortality is similar between urban and rural residents, rural dwellers die more frequently in the emergency department setting than urban dwellers, who die more often as in-patients. CONCLUSIONS: Overall mortality is similar between urban and rural residents. A large proportion of rural residents receive diagnoses and treatment for cerebrovascular disease in urban areas. Location of service and location of death differs between rural and urban cases of cerebrovascular disease.
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