Is your community bad for your health?

Local News

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — Where you live in Pennsylvania could have a major impact on what illnesses you may develop, and how long you’ll live.

On Wednesday, state officials unveiled a map of the commonwealth that shows how your community rates, when it comes to factors that affect your health.

It’s called the Pennsylvania Health Equity Analysis Tool or HEAT. The map provides state, county, zip code, and census track-level data, on a number of health measures

“Our health is determined by our genetics, family history, and our lifestyle, but it doesn’t stop there, the environment we’re born into, and reside in, throughout our lives, and many socioeconomic factors can seriously affect health status and long term health outcomes,” said Dr. Doug Jacobs, Chief Innovation Officer at the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.

The green areas of the map indicate positive factors for good health, such as access to healthcare, grocery stores, or better housing, to name a few. The red areas indicate where those good factors or others are missing.

According to Dr. Jacob, there are wide disparities in health outcomes among communities. For example, in some neighborhoods, the life expectancy is 20 years longer than it is in others.

As he explained, “to put that into context, if we were to completely eliminate heart disease altogether, in the human race, that would be a life expectancy increase of about four years, so a 20 year life expectancy difference is just incredibly profound.”

The reason for creating the Pennsylvania HEAT map is to identify areas where intervention is needed to address inequities and improve health.

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