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CDC lists 15 leading causes of death

Heart disease, cancer account for roughly half of U.S. deaths

Topics: Mortality, Quality, Performance Improvement, Outcomes

January 12, 2012

A new condition made CDC's most recent top causes of death list, squeezing out one 45-year mainstay.

For the report—which presents preliminary findings—CDC researchers analyzed data from state vital statistics offices. They found that 2,465,936 U.S. residents died in 2010, bringing the death rate to 798.7 per 100,000 residents, 0.5% higher than the 2009 death rate. After accounting for age distribution changes, the U.S. death rate reached a record low of 746.2 per 100,000 U.S. residents in 2010.

According to the analysis, heart disease (#1) and cancer (#2) remained the top killers and accounted for more than half of the nation's deaths in 2010. The other conditions that rounded out the top 15 list include:

    3. Lower respiratory diseases;
    4. Stroke and related cerebrovascular diseases;
    5. Accidents (unintentional injuries);
    6. Alzheimer's disease;
    7. Diabetes;
    8. Kidney diseases;
    9. Influenza and pneumonia;
    10. Suicide;
    11. Septicemia;
    12. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis;
    13. Hypertension and related renal disease;
    14. Parkinson's disease; and
    15. Pneumonitis due to solids and liquids.

Fourteen of the 15 top causes of death stayed the same from 2009 to 2010, although two of those causes switched places. Meanwhile, pneumonitis in 2010 pushed homicide off the list for the first time in 45 years. 

Overall, the researchers note that death rates for many of the top causes of death dropped in 2010, including for heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory disease. The report found that the U.S. infant mortality rate also declined from 6.39 deaths per 1,000 births in 2009 to an all-time low of 6.14 in 2010. Meanwhile, life expectancy increased by about one month to 78 years and eight months (Stobbe, AP/Atlanta-Journal Constitution, 1/11; Roan, "Booster Shots," Los Angeles Times, 1/11).

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