Today Google busted out this flipping FAN-tastic site that allows you to look at data by regional interests, generate gifs of your own data and rule the data world.

I did a quick little test run of Google Trends earlier this morning looking at regional interest comparing Stroke vs Heart Disease vs Healthy Eating. Full disclosure: I’m a bit of a stroke nerd, and was interested if there was a regional overlap between areas with high numbers of folks with heart and brain vascular disease (stroke in particular) and their searches for these terms.

Here’s the CDC’s stroke death stats showing a bunch of stroke deaths in what we call the ‘stroke belt’ – that region in the southeastern United States in dark purple.
Bear in mind, this data takes about a year for the CDC to pull together and typically is two years out of date. 

The rest of this data was generated in about five minutes from Google Trends.

Looking at data from 2004 to present, there is a good representation of ‘the southern stroke belt’ searching for stroke data. So that could be a good thing! 
Also, the search terms that are being used are pretty reasonable – warning signs of stroke was a good one. Heat stroke, probably not so much.

Back to Google Trends.

Looking at heart disease, we see a lot of overlap in the regions where stroke is a big cause of morbidity and morality, so this is another win.


Lastly, I set up search parameters for healthy eating (a good way to control your risk of both diseases). 

<Insert sad trombone noise here> It appears that some of the places with the highest incidence of stroke and heart disease (TN, AL, FL, MS, GA, LA, AR – I’m looking at all y’all) aren’t really super keen on healthy eating.

This was just a fun little excise, but Google Trends has AMAZING potential for public health and community outreach for starters. For instance, if you are working with a high risk population and folks are searching terms that aren’t getting them where you want them, you need to do some targeted marketing, proto.

I’ll be playing more with the site over the weekend, but if you have a great bit of data that surprised you using Google Trend data, we would love to see it! Plop that bad boy in the comments and we will send you cute kitten gifs to thank you.


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