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The House Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday passed a bill which would establish data registries with the Department of Health related to emergency visits for heart attacks or strokes.

SALT LAKE CITY — The House Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday passed a bill that would establish data registries with the Department of Health related to emergency visits for heart attacks or strokes.

Sen. Brian Zehnder, who is sponsoring SB150, said its purpose is to allow Utah health facilities to "collect demographic data for people who come to the emergency room (which) can then be shared with the Department of Health." Data detailing those patients' treatment would also be included.

The department "can look at the data and find out for us the reasons that people in certain counties in Utah might die sooner than others" from those two common medical problems, said Zehnder, R-Holladay.

He said some wide disparities exist in heart attack and stroke mortality data in the state, citing as an example how Box Elder County's rate of stroke deaths is three times higher from 2011 to 2015.

"We don't know why that is," he said.

Such wide-ranging differences could be due to anything from an overpopulation of people at risk of heart attack and stroke deaths to people not getting to an emergency room in time, Zehnder said.

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"There could be a whole host of reasons people are dying in one county at a higher rate than another," he said, and he believes better data at the Department of Health could help the Utah medical community arrive at more informed answers.

University of Utah Health, Intermountain Healthcare, the American Heart Association, the American Stroke Association, and the volunteer-run Utah Stroke Task Force all testified in support of the bill, saying it would enable effective data collection statewide and ultimately lead to improved medical practices.

The committee favorably recommended SB150 for the consideration of the full House of Representatives by a unanimous vote. The bill was approved unanimously last week by the Senate.