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Report on heath of Hyde Park shows dangerous trends

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  March 30, 2011 11:03 AM

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(Boston Public Health Commission)

Hyde Park was tied with Roxbury for the highest rate of high blood pressure, with 31 percent of adult residents reporting that a health care worker had warned that they had the condition.

The Boston Public Health Commission has released the results of surveys on the health of Hyde Park residents, and some of the numbers are troubling.

Hyde Park had the second-highest rate of heart disease deaths of any neighborhood in Boston after Roxbury, with 28.2 per 10,000 residents compared to 15.8 citywide. It was tied for first place with Roxbury in the prevalence of high blood pressure, with 31 percent of adults suffering from the condition, and had the third highest number of opioid overdose deaths. Curiously, the neighborhood had the lowest rate of excessive alcohol consumption in the city, at just 8 percent.

The commission draws its health data from the biannual Boston Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System surveys and from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Denise Dodds, a senior research associate for the commission and a Hyde Park resident, cautioned that the numbers showing rates for each city neighborhood shouldn’t be viewed as showing that one neighborhood was better or worse but as context to see how Hyde Park was doing relative to the overall population of the city.

Dodds said one cause for concern in Hyde Park was a marked increase in obesity in the past 15 years, as there has been across the city and across the nation. The 2008 data show 28 percent of Hyde Park adults are obese, compared to just 15 percent in combined data from 2003 and 2005. The citywide obesity rate for 2008 was 23 percent.

Dodds said rising rates of obesity were tied to the increase in diabetes, which caused 4.3 deaths per 10,000 residents from 2006 – 2008.

She also noted the neighborhood’s rate of 8.7 asthma hospitalizations per 1,000 for children under five. “We look at this indicator, we get concerned because kids shouldn’t be hospitalized for asthma,” Dodds said. “If it’s well controlled, there wouldn’t be any need for hospitalization.”

The neighborhood also came in low on some measures of preventative care, with the second lowest rate of mammograms among women age 40 and older and the third lowest rate of colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy.

Dodds and other representatives from the Public Health Commission presented the findings last week at the monthly meeting of the Fairmount Hill Neighborhood Association. The commission is working to meet with groups of residents from all parts of the community and all ages and ethnic backgrounds to discuss the results of the survey and look at particular issues of interest to different segments of the community, leading up to a meeting that would include the entire community.

“We want to meet with seven to eight community groups both to get everybody up to speed and in the same place but also to build some excitement in different parts of the neighborhood that would have people want to work together and to come together in a bigger fall meeting,” Dodds said in an interview.

Dodds said that addressing public health issues in the neighborhood will require a two-pronged approach.

“We feel that part of the solution obviously has to do with people having access to good medical care, including having screenings for different kinds of cancer,” she said. “But we also feel that a solution lies in working together to make changes in neighborhoods that will make it easier for people to engage in healthier behavior.”

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