Top 10 Causes of Death in the U S

Top 10 Causes of Death in the U S

Top 10 Causes of Death in the U.S.

Heart disease is a leading cause of death for men and women of most ethnicities. The buildup of plaque in arteries causes coronary artery disease or CAD. The plaque narrows arteries, making it harder for blood to flow.

About 20.1 million adults age 20 and older have CAD (about 7.2%), which killed 382,820 people in 2020. Most people don’t know they have it until they have a heart attack.

Tips for preventing heart disease and heart attack

  • Eat healthy, exercise, and quit smoking.
  • Take cholesterol and blood pressure medications while lowering other risk factors.
  • Consider surgery to improve blood flow if recommended by a doctor.

#2 Cancer

Percent of total deaths: 17.8%

Cancer deaths are falling slightly, but it’s still a leading cause of death. Prostate, lung, and colorectal cancers are the top three cancers in men. For women, it’s breast, lung, and colorectal cancer.

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Cancer rates vary among racial and ethnic groups. They are highest for African Americans and lowest for Asian Americans. People with lower incomes more often die of cancer because they are less likely to catch it early and get the best treatment.

Tips for preventing or surviving cancer

  • Eat right, exercise, and wear sunscreen.
  • Don’t smoke and follow cancer screening guidelines for early detection.

#3 COVID-19

Percent of total deaths: 10.4%

The highly contagious SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (COVID-19) causes respiratory symptoms similar to a cold, flu, or pneumonia.

Tips for preventing COVID-19:

  • Maintain social distance of at least 6 feet.
  • Wear a mask when around large groups of people.
  • Avoid contact with potentially infected individuals.
  • Spend time outdoors and ventilate your home.
  • Get a COVID-19 vaccine to help protect against infection.
  • If immunocompromised: Consult with your doctor about the eligibility for Evusheld, a medication that may offer 6 months of protection against the virus.

#4 Accidents

Percent of total deaths: 5.9%

Accidental injuries send millions of people to the emergency room each year. The leading causes of accidental death are falls, car accidents, and poisonings.

Tips to help prevent accidental death

  • Reduce fall hazards, ensure proper lighting, and use assistive devices if necessary.
  • Drive safely and avoid distractions.
  • Take medications as prescribed and dispose of unused portions.

#5 Stroke

Percent of total deaths: 4.7%

Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability. African Americans are more likely to have and die from strokes. Strokes can occur at any age but are more common in older individuals.

Tips for preventing or surviving stroke

  • Control high blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes.
  • Recognize stroke signs and seek immediate medical attention.
  • Call 9-1-1 if you suspect a stroke.
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#6 Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases

Percent of total deaths: 4.5%

Chronic lower respiratory diseases include bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma. Asthma is more common in women, African Americans, and it leads to hospitalizations and deaths more frequently.

Tips to prevent lower respiratory diseases

  • Quit smoking and avoid exposure to irritating substances.
  • Follow doctor’s advice for controlling asthma.
  • Minimize exposure to triggers if you have or are at risk for these conditions.

#7 Alzheimer’s Disease

Percent of total deaths: 4%

Alzheimer’s disease usually begins after the age of 60 and is a common cause of death among older individuals.

Tips for preventing Alzheimer’s disease

  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk.
  • Maintain proper sleep, engage in continuous learning, and stay socially connected.
  • There are treatments available to manage symptoms, but currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

#8 Diabetes

Percent of total deaths: 3%

One in 4 people over age 65 has diabetes. It’s more common if there is a family history or if overweight. African American, Hispanic, and Native American people have a higher risk of developing diabetes compared to white people.

Tips for preventing and managing diabetes

  • Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
  • Control blood sugar with insulin or oral medications.
  • Manage additional risks like heart disease, heart attack, and stroke by controlling cholesterol, blood pressure, and not smoking.

#9 Influenza and Pneumonia

Percent of total deaths: 1.6%

The flu can affect anyone, but older adults and those with other health issues are more prone to pneumonia.

Tips for preventing influenza, pneumonia, and complications

  • Get annual flu and pneumococcal vaccines.
  • Practice good hand hygiene and avoid sick individuals.
  • Quit smoking as it increases the risk of pneumonia.
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#10 Kidney Disease

Percent of total deaths: 1.6%

Chronic kidney disease impairs blood filtration in the kidneys. Those with diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, or a family history have a higher risk of developing kidney disease.

Tips to maintain kidney health

  • Control blood pressure and blood sugar.
  • Adopt a healthy routine with nutritious meals, sufficient sleep, and regular exercise.
  • Avoid smoking.

National Vital Statistics Reports: “Deaths: Final Data for 2017.”

American Cancer Society: “Facts & Figures 2019: US Cancer Death Rate has Dropped 27% in 25 Years,” “Stay Healthy.”

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: “American College of Sports Medicine Roundtable Report on Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior, and Cancer Prevention and Control.”

Mayo Clinic: “Fall prevention: Simple tips to prevent falls,” “Asthma,” “Suicide: What to do when someone is suicidal.”

Hg.org: “How to avoid a car accident.”

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: “Asthma Facts and Figures.”

West Virginia Health Statistics Center: “Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease.”

National Institute on Aging: “Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet.”

Harvard Health Letter: “What can you do to avoid Alzheimer’s disease?”

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “What is diabetes?” “Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke,” “Kidney Disease.”

American Lung Association: “Learn about Pneumonia.”

Help Guide: “Are you feeling suicidal?”

  • Medical Reviewer: Suzanne R. Steinbaum, DO

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