TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Northeast Texans have higher mortality rates than Texans overall and Americans, according to a UT Tyler study released on Tuesday.

The mortality rate measures how many people die in a population over a period of time. The 2021 Northeast Texas Health Status Report was published by the School of Community and Rural Health at the Health Science Center at UT Tyler.

People 35-44 years old are experiencing the greatest increase of mortality. The report also mentions the health issues that are impacting the 1.6 million residents in the area. The study furthers the research of a similar report done in 2016.

The latest study also lists out social and economic factors that affect people’s health.

Northeast Texas had higher rates of mortality in 2019 than other parts of the state for conditions such as heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, chronic lower respiratory diseases and stroke, according to the report. These medical issues are also the five causes that lead to the most deaths in the U.S.

Mortality rates for heart disease, stroke, most cancers and kidney disease were lower in 2019 than in 2014.

The mortality rates for diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Alzheimer’s disease, suicide, alcohol and drug usage and unintentional injuries were greater during the five years the report looked at by researchers. Unintentional injuries refer to car crashes and other incidents.

The study also revealed cigarette smoking is still a serious health issue in Northeast Texas. More than 16% of adults in the region smoke and women were three times as likely to smoke while pregnant in Northeast Texas than in the entire state. But, these statistics have continued to decrease.

“I’m especially proud of the progress in reducing cigarette use. Although the benefits take time to show up in mortality data, they are experienced almost immediately by those who quit and those who are no longer exposed to tobacco smoke,” said Dr. David Lakey, the report’s senior author and Chief Medical Officer of The University of Texas System. “We all look forward to seeing the benefits over time in reduced mortality rates from cancers, heart and lung diseases and decreases in preterm births.”

Health experts said the report can also help organizations work on these issues.

“The tremendous community effort in improving health of family, friends and neighbors over the past five years is a great foundation to make further and greater health improvements over the coming years, which I have full faith in our region to accomplish,” said Dr. Gerald Ledlow, Dean of the School of Community and Rural Health, at the Health Science Center at UT Tyler.

At the end of the study, researchers wrote that more needs to be done to stop the increase in deaths due to diabetes and suicide.