Close to 75 percent of all deaths in the United States are a result of only 10 causes. The top three causes of death account for over 50 percent of all deaths. The main causes of death affecting Americans has remained fairly consistent over the last five years. According to the CDC, life expectancy for the U.S. population in 2015 was 78.8 years, a decrease of 0.1 year from 2014. Generally, females have a slightly longer life expectancy than males. These are the top 10 causes of death in the U.S. each year as found in the CDC’s 2015 data on causes of death in the U.S.:
1. Heart Disease
Heart disease was responsible for 614,348 deaths in the U.S. in 2015. That amounts to 23.4 percent of the total deaths that year. Heart disease is the highest cause of death for both men and women in America and also worldwide. It covers a number of conditions that are related to plaque buildup around the artery walls. Lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease. This can be done by ensuring safe use of medications, eating a low sodium diet, avoiding excess alcohol and smoking, and exercising regularly.
Cancer was responsible for 591,699 deaths in 2015, a total of 22.5 percent of all deaths in the U.S. Cancer embodies a whole group of diseases that are caused by the growth and spread of abnormal cells. The uncontrolled spread of these cells can be fatal. The risk of cancer increases with age and is related to genetic factors and exposure to carcinogens, such as radiation and smoking. Of the different types of cancer, the most common in males are lung and bronchus, prostate, and colon and rectum. For women, lung and bronchus, breast, and colon and rectum cancer are most common. The risk of some cancers can be reduced by avoiding excessive sun exposure and avoiding tobacco and alcohol.
3. Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease
CLRD was responsible for 147,101 deaths, a total of 5.6 percent of all total deaths in 2015. It refers to a group of lung diseases that can cause breathing-related issues, including bronchitis, emphysema and asthma. Tobacco smoke is the main factor in the development of this disease, and risk can be reduced by quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke, air pollution, chemical fumes and dust.
136,053 deaths occurred as a result of accidents in 2015, accounting for 5.2 percent of all deaths. Accidents include car crashes, gun violence and accidents, and falls, and the risk can be lowered by maintaining knowledge of road safety, using seat belts and avoiding driving while intoxicated. Falls are a major cause of injury and death among seniors, and are a significant cause of ER visits.
Strokes were responsible for 133,033 deaths in 2015, a total of 5.1 percent of all deaths. Strokes, or cerebrovascular diseases, result when the blood doesn’t supply enough oxygen to the brain. This can lead to strokes, transient ischemic attack, subarachnoid hemorrhage and vascular dementia. The risk increases with age and is more prevalent in the southeast. Getting immediate treatment is the most important factor in controlling a stroke so that permanent brain damage is avoided. High blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking are big risk factors for stroke. Patients can also make lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet, getting exercise, limiting alcohol consumption, staying hydrated and managing diabetes.
6. Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease was responsible for 93,541 deaths, a total of 3.6 percent of total deaths in 2015. It encompasses diseases of dementia that cause a decline in cognitive function due to damage to nerve cells in the brain. It is a progressive condition that impairs the ability of the brain to carry out basic functions like walking and swallowing. It’s the only one of the top 10 causes of death that can’t be cured or slowed. However, it has been linked to cardiovascular disease, and it is thought that reducing the risk of heart disease can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Diabetes was responsible for 76,488 deaths, a total of 2.9 percent of all deaths in the U.S. in 2015. It is a disease in which the body can’t control blood glucose and as a result, damage is caused to the body’s tissues. It can cause serious and fatal complications. There is no way to prevent Type 1 diabetes, but Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with weight loss and increased physical activity.
8. Influenza and Pneumonia
Influenza and pneumonia were responsible for 55,227 deaths, or 2.1 percent of all total deaths in 2015. The flu is a highly contagious viral infection and can be complicated by pneumonia. Pneumonia causes inflammation of the lungs and prevent oxygen from getting to the bloodstream. Patients can avoid the flu by getting a vaccination every year and by practicing better hygiene. Washing hands after blowing the nose or going to the bathroom and before eating or touching foods is helpful.
9. Kidney Disease
Kidney disease was responsible for 48,146 deaths in 2015, a total of 1.8 percent of all deaths in the U.S. Kidney disease happens when the kidneys can’t filter blood and waste builds up in the body. The chances of developing the condition is most common among adults over 70 years of age. It can be prevented by avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy weight and managing other medical conditions.
Suicide is the 10th most common cause of death in the United States, accounting for 42,773 deaths in 2015, or 1.6 percent of all fatalities. Suicide can be prevented by seeking help for the person suffering from suicidal thoughts and encouraging open communication in therapy or, in some cases, receiving or adjusting the medications used to treat mental health problems.