Each year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) releases a table detailing stats on the leading causes of death in the U.S. The most recent National Vital Statistics Report names heart disease, cancer, and accidents as the top three causes of mortality. Below, we detail each leading cause of death and statistics surrounding them.
1. Heart disease: 647,457
However, there are many steps people can take to lower their likelihood of suffering from its most tragic manifestations, like a heart attack or stroke.
2. Cancer: 599,108
Cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and destroy body tissue. It’s also the second leading cause of death in the U.S.
“Often cancer gets missed or is advanced when patients don’t get recommended screenings,” says Sandy Kotiah, M.D., a medical oncologist and director of the Neuroendocrine Tumor Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. Her advice: Don’t ignore warning signs.
3. Accidents (unintentional injuries): 169,936
Accidents are another prominent cause of death — especially those that involve falling. Nearly three times more adults age 75 and older died from falls in 2016 than in 2000, according to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
In 2016, 25,189 people in this age group died from falls, compared with 8,613 in 2000. The rate of fatal falls for adults 75 and older more than doubled during this period, from 51.6 per 100,000 people in 2000 to 122.2 per 100,000 people in 2016, the report found.
What’s needed to check this alarming trend, experts suggest, is a more personalized approach to preventing falls, more involvement by medical practitioners and better ways to motivate older adults to take action.
4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 160,201
Chronic lower respiratory disease (CLRD) — the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. — is a group of conditions that affect the lungs.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some of the most common CLRDs include asthma, occupational lung diseases and pulmonary hypertension. Risk factors for CLRD include tobacco smoke, air pollution, occupational chemicals and dusts, and frequent lower respiratory infections during childhood.
5. Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 146,383
Stroke is the number five cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States, according to the CDC.
There are two kinds of strokes: ischemic, which accounts for 87% and happens when a blood clot stops up a brain blood vessel or artery to the brain; and hemorrhagic, which is caused when a brain blood vessel breaks and results in bleeding inside or over the brain.
If you think you or someone with you is having a stroke. Call 9-1-1 right away. Do not “wait and see” if the symptoms subside. The sooner the patient gets medical attention, the better the outcome.
6. Alzheimer’s disease: 121,404
As we age, it’s natural to worry about developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease — the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.
The good news is that about a third of Alzheimer’s cases are preventable, according to research. Rather than drugs, lifestyle changes offer the best hope of avoiding these illnesses, including some moves that may surprise you.
7. Diabetes: 83,564
Diabetes occurs when your blood sugar is too high. It’s the 7th leading cause of death.
Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause health problems, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Although diabetes has no cure, you can take steps to manage your diabetes and stay healthy.
8. Influenza and pneumonia: 55,672
As we get older our immune system begins to weaken, which is why people over 65 are at a greater risk of complications from influenza and pneumonia.
It’s important to get vaccinated for both the flu and certain types of pneumonia to decrease your risk of infection. Another crucial preventative measure is making sure to wash or sanitize your hands frequently to quell the spread of germs.
9. Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 50,633
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis involve inflammation of one or both kidneys (aka kidney disease). Having diabetes or high blood pressure can increase your risk for developing chronic kidney disease, the 9th leading cause of death in the U.S.
10. Intentional self-harm (suicide): 47,173
Suicide is the 10th most common cause of death in the U.S., leading to more than 47,000 deaths in 2017.
Currently, the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255), however, simply dialing 988 will direct you to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline as well.