These Are the Top 10 Causes of Death in the U.S.

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Oct. 6, 2023 -- Heart disease, cancer, and COVID-19 are the top three causes of death in the United States and account for more than half the deaths in the country, the CDC reported.

Heart disease and cancer have been at the top of the list for more than a decade and caused more than 37% of U.S. deaths in 2021, the most recent data available. COVID-19 has climbed into the top rankings since the pandemic began in 2020.

The CDC on Thursday listed the top 10 causes of death based on information from 2021, the most recent year with full data. There were 3,464,231 deaths in the United States that year, a 2.4% increase over 2020, according to an analysis of CDC data from USAFacts.

The age-adjusted death rates for cancer and heart disease have dropped over the last 2 decades, USAFacts said, whereas the death rates for Alzheimer’s disease and unintentional injury have nearly doubled between 1999 and 2021. 

The top 10 causes of death accounted for almost 75% of all deaths in the U.S. in 2021. 

  1. Heart disease (695,547)
  2. Cancer (605,213)
  3. COVID-19 (416,893)
  4. Accidents (224,935)
  5. Stroke (162,890)
  6. Chronic lower respiratory diseases (142,342)
  7. Alzheimer’s disease (119,399)
  8. Diabetes (103,294)
  9. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis (56,585)
  10. Kidney disease (54,358)

The average life expectancy is 76.4 years. Men born in the U.S. in 2021 are expected to live an average of 73.5 years, women 79.3 years. Men have higher death rates for cancer and heart disease, while women have higher death rates for Alzheimer’s.

Higher rates of heart disease and high blood pressure were found among Black Americans, higher rates of unintentional injuries and chronic liver disease and cirrhosis among American Indians or Alaskan Natives, and increased rates of diabetes among Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders, USAFacts noted.