Oktibbeha County Selected for National Study on Heart and Lung Health


Oktibbeha County is among 10 counties throughout Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, and Louisiana chosen for a national study focusing on heart and lung health in rural communities in the Southeast. The Mississippi Core of the Risk Underlying Rural Areas Longitudinal (RURAL) Study is hosting a “Go Red for Heart Health” community luncheon and forum Saturday to bring awareness to the RURAL Study.


Dr. Emily Landrum, who is on the medical staff at OCH Regional Medical Center and practices at The Family Clinic, serves on the RURAL Study Community Advisory Board. She said Oktibbeha County was chosen based on the diversity of demographics.


“A survey of the demographics of our state determined Oktibbeha County has diverse ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses—factors that influence health determinants,” explained Dr. Landrum. “The study will document lifestyle behaviors such as physical activity and dietary habits, as well as extensive exams, with the objective being to develop future programs to improve the health of these rural communities.”


A mobile unit will allow researchers to visit multiple sites in rural counties to conduct the study which is projected to take place over the next six years. The goals of the program listed on www.theruralstudy.org include identifying:


·         the frequency of and risk factors for heart and lung diseases in the RURAL communities


·         unique factors contributing to health disorders in these communities — including psychosocial, economic, and familial factors — and how they interact together


·         potential solutions by examining differences between higher and lower risk rural counties.


University of Mississippi Medical Center is one of 16 institutions making up the RURAL Cohort Study team, with UMMC professor of medicine, Dr. Ervin Fox, serving as the principal investigator for the Mississippi sites


“We are going to look at a rural population cohort – a cohort that’s never been successfully studied at this scale,” said Dr. Fox in a release by UMMC. “We plan to draw participants from throughout these communities and be able to identify solutions for a group of people who have been overlooked by previous research efforts because of their geography.”


Panola County is the second county is Mississippi that will be studied. The “Go Red for Heart Health” community luncheon and forum will be held at the First United Methodist Church Christian Life Center in Starkville from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.