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BMC Public Health

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Identifying disparities in myocardial infarction (MI) burden and assessing its temporal changes are critical for guiding resource allocation and policies geared towards reducing/eliminating health disparities. Our objectives were to: (a) investigate the spatial distribution and clusters of MI mortality risk in Florida; and (b) assess temporal changes in geographic disparities in MI mortality risks in Florida from 2000 to 2014.


This is a retrospective ecologic study with county as the spatial unit of analysis. We obtained data for MI deaths occurring among Florida residents between 2000 and 2014 from the Florida Department of Health, and calculated county-level age-adjusted MI mortality risks and Spatial Empirical Bayesian smoothed MI mortality risks. We used Kulldorff’s circular spatial scan statistics and Tango’s flexible spatial scan statistics to identify spatial clusters.


There was an overall decline of 48% in MI mortality risks between 2000 and 2014. However, we found substantial, persistent disparities in MI mortality risks, with high-risk clusters occurring primarily in rural northern counties and low-risk clusters occurring exclusively in urban southern counties. MI mortality risks declined in both low- and high-risk clusters, but the latter showed more dramatic decreases during the first nine years of the study period. Consequently, the risk difference between the high- and low-risk clusters was smaller at the end than at the beginning of the study period. However, the rates of decline levelled off during the last six years of the study, and there are signs that the risks may be on an upward trend in parts of North Florida. Moreover, MI mortality risks for high-risk clusters at the end of the study period were on par with or above those for low-risk clusters at the beginning of the study period. Thus, high-risk clusters lagged behind low-risk clusters by at least 1.5 decades.


Myocardial infarction mortality risks have decreased substantially during the last 15 years, but persistent disparities in MI mortality burden still exist across Florida. Efforts to reduce these disparities will need to target prevention programs to counties in the high-risk clusters.


This article was published openly thanks to the University of Tennessee Open Publishing Support Fund.

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

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