A new study — released as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index — reveals the newest findings on heart attack rates based on residency. The researchers found that those living in the lowest wellbeing metropolitan areas are twice as likely to report having a heart attack in comparison to those living in the highest wellbeing metro areas.

Researchers interviewed more than 230,000 adults ages 18 and older in 190 different metropolitan areas in America to look at different aspects of wellbeing in contrasting metro areas. Of those 230,000 adults, 300 were interviewed specifically on heart attack reports, from which researchers found that an average of 5.5 percent of those living in the 10 lowest wellbeing metro areas report having a heart attack, while only 2.8 percent of those living in the highest level of wellbeing metro areas report having heart attacks.

An estimated 715,000 Americans have a heart attack each year, and of those, more than 100,000 die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Well-Being Index developed by Gallup is an average of six sub-groups, which are based on life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors, and access to basic necessities. Each group is measured on a scale of 0 to 100, where 100 rates as ideal. The heart rate sub-index asked respondents, "Has a doctor or nurse ever told you that you have had a heart attack?" The national average of all adults was 3.6 percent, but it was the specific metropolitan area group votes that interested researchers the most.

Researchers may have discovered why there was a doubling rate in those who live in low wellbeing areas. Risk factors for heart attacks were widely prevalent in these areas; these factors included obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, and excessive stress.

However, those living in cities with particular health issues, as indicated by the Well-being Index, can help create a culture to prevent heart disease. Creating awareness of heart disease through school programs, individual student health consultations, and involvement from local businesses and government is a key step that city leaders need to implement, according to Gallup.

Mayo Clinic provides the public with various medication-free suggestions to reduce the chance of heart attack. By improving overall health and standard of living, people can increase their chances of living heart-attack free. Don't smoke or use tobacco, exercise for 30 minutes more days of the week than not (at least four days a week), eat a heart-healthy diet, and avoid red meat. Lastly, regular screenings are an important part of heart attack prevention care because they look at blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

"Americans consume many more calories than needed and the excess is leading to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and premature mortality," Thomas Farley, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, wrote in an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Government intervention to cap portions of "food products that harm the most people" would be an effective strategy for putting the American people back on a healthier track of living, Farley argued. However, government regulation of food is a controversial topic, especially in the recent development of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's moves to limit soda drink sizes.

"Simultaneously encourage food companies to voluntarily produce and market healthful products, and then provide information to consumers in ways that facilitate their choosing healthful products," Farley suggests. In other words, a healthy mix of government intervention and consumer education may be the key.