Heart disease ranks as the number one cause of premature death in Santa Barbara County, claiming the lives of 137 people in 2008 before they hit the age of 75, the cut-off line for premature mortality. In all, heart disease killed 504 county residents. Of those who died prematurely, 31 percent were younger than 60, 16 percent between the ages of 61 and 64, and 53 percent between the ages of 65 and 74. After heart disease, the other leading causes of premature death in Santa Barbara are fatal drug overdoses—not intentional—and car crashes. In a report that will soon be going to the Board of Supervisors, county health officials also noted that in 2009, 22 percent of county residents qualified as medically obese and 35 percent were overweight. Statewide, 24 percent are deemed obese and 35 percent overweight. At the national level, the figures are 27 percent and 36 percent respectively.


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