Virginia Howard, PhD

Birmingham Medical News: There's a lot to love about living in the southeast--earlier springs, friendly people, rolling green hills, and sandy white beaches. But in the 11-state area generally referred to as the Stroke Belt, there is also a downside.

People who live in our region tend to have more strokes, obesity, diabetes, hypertension and a wide range of related health issues that put us at risk for poorer quality of life and an earlier death.

It doesn't end there. In fact, by digging into subsets of data from the nationwide REGARDS investigation (Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke Study), UAB epidemiologist Virginia Howard, PhD, FAHA, FSCT, and her colleagues have found that something about beginning life here sets the stage for a greater risk of cognitive decline in later years.

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