image courtesy of NIH

Does anyone else find it ironic (or telling) that the United States, which is oh-so-focused on waistlines—or more specifically, its inhabitants’ expanding middles—should keep identifying “belts” of disease? We’ve got the Diabetes Belt and the Stroke Belt, and now it appears that people living in the 11 states spanning from Louisiana to Virginia are also at an increased risk for sepsis, a severe illness in which bacteria overwhelm the bloodstream.

“In 2010, we examined death rates from sepsis across the United States,” said Dr. Henry Wang, associate professor and vice chair for research in the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) department of emergency medicine. “Laying it out on a map, we saw that the states with highest sepsis mortality formed a cluster in the Southeast United States, closely mirroring the appearance of the Stroke Belt.”

Researches felt that possible causes for the cluster may be related include health behaviors, diet and environment and air pollution as well as genetics and pre-existing medical conditions (like Diabetes, perhaps?). They hope it will lead to more research and strides toward preventing sepsis.

When I showed him the article, Chris said, “Maybe the belt is too tight.” Very funny. Not necessarily untrue, though.

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