Researchers from LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center and other institutions will study why some people in rural parishes and counties live longer, healthier lives. Doctor Stephanie Broyles will lead the Louisiana portion of the study and they’ll look at two parishes, Assumption and Franklin.

“So Assumption Parish has much lower heart disease rate than Franklin Parish, but yet still has somewhat similar poverty rate, somewhat similar demographic composition,” said Broyles.

Broyles says in a couple of years they will recruit about 700 participants from Assumption and Franklin parishes to see why Assumption is more resilient to heart disease and other illnesses compared to Franklin. She says there’s nothing obvious on why that is.

“So it makes us get under the hood, dive a little deeper and see what factors explain these differences,” said Broyles.

The Boston University School of Medicine is coordinating the six-year study and funding comes from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Broyles says the study has immense potential because it will figure out what why some rural areas combat health risks better and the information gained can be used by communities to make changes to improve health.

“Anything that we identify as being health promoting,  already exists in a higher poverty rural area, so these are identifying solutions that work,” said Broyles.

The study is expected to take a few years to complete.