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A new study suggests people living in rural Ontario communities could be at higher risk of having a stroke than their counterparts in urban centres.

The report out today suggests that residents of communities with a population under 10,000 were more likely to have a stroke than city dwellers.

It also found that those strokes were more likely to be fatal.

The study – published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes – looked at data gathered between 2008 and 2012 from six-million Ontario residents.

Lead author Moira Kapral says the research found rural residents were less likely to be screened for a variety of risk factors.

It also found that urban residents were at least 10 per cent more likely to be screened for conditions such as diabetes or high cholesterol.

But Kapral says gaps virtually vanished once people had survived a stroke, suggesting care for stroke patients was equal in both urban and rural settings.

The research found that 81 per cent of urban dwellers were screened for diabetes compared to 71 per cent of their rural peers.

The gap for cholesterol screening was even wider, with 78 per cent of urban residents being checked out compared to 66 per cent of those in smaller communities.