I hope this doesn’t seem overly morbid, but I saw several press reports about this today and thought I’d link directly to the Center for Disease Control’s Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2010.
It’s a surprisingly readable document and it lists, in order, the 15 top causes of deaths in America.
Homicide fell off the list of the top 15 (to 16) and was replaced by “Pneumonitis due to solids and liquids”.
The top 15:
1 Diseases of heart
2 Malignant neoplasms
3 Chronic lower respiratory diseases
4 Cerebrovascular diseases
5 Accidents (unintentional injuries)
6 Alzheimer’s disease
7 Diabetes mellitus
8 Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis
9 Influenza and pneumonia
10 Intentional self-harm (suicide)
12 Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis
13 Essential hypertension and hypertensive renal disease
14 Parkinson’s disease
15 Pneumonitis due to solids and liquids
The rankings are far from static, with death rates for some of these showing improvement — and some worsening:
From 2009 to 2010, the age-adjusted death rate declined significantly for 7 of the 15 leading causes of death. The age-adjusted death rate for the leading cause of death, Diseases of heart, decreased by 2.4 percent. The age-adjusted death rate for Malignant neoplasms decreased by 0.6 percent (see Tables B and 2). Deaths from these two diseases combined accounted for 47 percent of deaths in the United States in 2010. Although heart disease mortality has exhibited a fairly steady decline since 1980, cancer mortality began to decline only in the early 1990s (13). Of the 15 leading causes of death, the age- adjusted death rate also decreased significantly for Chronic lower respiratory diseases (1.4 percent), Cerebrovascular diseases (1.5 percent), Accidents (unintentional injuries) (1.1 percent), Influenza and pneumonia (8.5 percent), and Septicemia (3.6 percent).
The age-adjusted death rate increased significantly from 2009 to 2010 for five leading causes: Alzheimer’s disease (3.3 percent), Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis (1.3 percent), Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis (3.3 percent), Parkinson’s disease (4.6 percent), and Pneumonitis due to solids and liquids (4.1 percent).
The observed changes in the age-adjusted death rates from 2009 to 2010 were not significant for Diabetes mellitus, Intentional self-harm (suicide), and Essential hypertension and hypertensive renal disease.
Death rates vary widely:
By state of residence, Hawaii had the lowest mortality in 2010 with an age-adjusted death rate of 589.6 deaths per 100,000 standard population (Table 3). Mortality was highest in Mississippi, with an age-adjusted death rate of 961.9 per 100,000 standard population.
Georgia’s age-adjusted death rate was 846.1, which I believe ranked us ahead of only a handful of states: Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
The report also has all sorts of other interesting data, including the “expectation of life at selected ages” for a variety of demographic groups.
If there’s one thing that really stands out, I’d say it’s the prevalence of suicide as a cause of death. Surely we can do more to counter that.