Death Rates

Menstuff® has compiled the following information on U.S. Cause of Death Shifting Racing Deaths

Top 10 Causes of Death Among Adults Over Age 65
Leading Causes of Death in the United States (2005)
Top 10 Women's Health Issues - Leading Causes of Death Among Females
Death Rates
U.S. Death Trends Shifting
Birth to Death Rankings
Death of middle-aged whites

Death Rates

Top 10 Causes of Death Among Adults Over Age 65

The leading causes of death among adults over the age of 65 are also the among most common causes of death among the population as a whole. Many of these conditions are also highly preventable and treatable. It is important to understand these diseases, know when and where to get treatment and know how you can live with them to help prolong life and health. Many of these disease and conditions are preventible or reversible with prevention and lifestyle changes.

1. Heart Disease

Heart disease is the number one cause of death among adults over the age of 60. Heart disease includes conditions such as heart failure, heart attack and heart arrhythmia that can cause the heart to beat ineffectively and impair circulation. Heart disease is associated with or caused by, diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, improper diet and lack of exercise. It can also have a genic component.

2. Cancer

Cancer is the second leading cause of death among seniors. It includes all cancers including, breast cancer, colon cancer, and skin cancer. Also included are the malignant blood and bone marrow diseases that cause leukemia. Many cancers occur at a higher rate among older adults, thought the cause for that is not clear. Cancers can also be more difficult to treat due to other health conditions that may also be present.

3. Cerebrovascular Disease

More commonly know as stroke, cerebrovascular disease can be caused by either a clot or blockage that cuts off blood flow to a part of the brain or by hemorrhage. In both cases there is damage or death of brain tissue that can cause paralysis, speech disorders, swallowing problems and immobility. People with diabetes and high blood pressure are at higher risk of stroke.


Chronic obstructive lung disease decreases the lungs ability to exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen. As the disease progresses the patient has to work harder and harder to breath, often feeling as if they are suffocating. These diseases are often linked to a lifetime of smoking, but can be due to environmental factors.

5. Pneumonia

Pneumonia is the fifth highest killer of older adults, especially during the winter months of flu season. At high risk are seniors with chronic diseases such as diabetes heart disease and respiratory conditions. The flu and pneumonia shots are recommended for all adults over the age of 55 to help prevent this killer.

6. Diabetes

Type two diabetes, also known as adult onset diabetes is a chronic disease that lowers the immune system and can increase risk of stroke, heart disease and other circulatory problems. Wounds take longer to heal and respiratory infections like pneumonia often are more severe.

7. Accidents

Seniors are more at risk of accident due to balance disorders, failing eyesight and slower reflexes. Simple falls can result in fractures that cause immobility, disability and may hasten death. Accidents cannot be planned, but precautions can be made to prevent them.

8. Septicemia

Septicemia refers to the presence of pathogenic bacteria in the blood. This can cause overwhelming infection and death. Anthrax is just one of many organisms that can cause such a massive infection.

9. Nephritis

Nephritis is an inflammation of the kidney, and can be chronic or acute. It can result from bacterial infection, or toxic drugs such as mercury: arsenic or alcohol. It can progress to renal failure with decreased urine output and a built up of toxins in the blood. Chronic renal failure may lead to a need for dialysis.

10. Alzheimers

This progressive and always deadly disease is characterized by progressive memory loss, personality changes and eventually a complete loss of function and ability. The causative factor is unknown, and there is no cure, though there are some medications that can slow its progression slightly.

Leading Causes of Death in the United States (2005)

Number of deaths for leading causes of death

1. Heart disease: 652,091

2. Cancer: 559,312

3. Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 143,579

4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 130,933

5. Accidents (unintentional injuries): 117,809

6. Diabetes: 75,119

7. Alzheimer's disease: 71,599

8. Influenza/Pneumonia: 63,001

9. Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 43,901

10. Septicemia: 34,136

Source: Center for Disease Control (CDC). Deaths: Final Data for 2005, Table C

Top 10 Women's Health Issues - Leading Causes of Death Among Females

Most of the Top 10 Killers of Women are Preventable

When it comes to women's health, what are the top 10 women's health issues you should be concerned about? According to a 2004 report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the conditions described below are the top 10 leading causes of death in females. The good news is that many are preventable. Click on the headings to learn how to reduce your risk:

1. Heart disease 27.2% of deaths

The Women's Heart Foundation reports that 8.6 million women worldwide die from heart disease each year, and that 8 million women in the U.S. are living with heart disease. Of those women who have heart attacks, 42% die within a year. When a woman under 50 has a heart attack, it's twice as likely to be fatal as a heart attack in a man under 50. Almost two-thirds of heart attack deaths occur in women with no prior history of chest pain. In 2005, the American Heart Association reported 213,600 deaths in women from coronary heart disease.

2. Cancer 22.0% of deaths

According to the American Cancer Society, in 2009 an estimated 269,800 women will die of cancer. The leading causes of cancer deaths in women are lung (26%), breast (15%), and colorectal cancer(9%).

3. Stroke 7.5% of deaths

OFten thought of as a man's disease, stroke kills more women than men each year. Worldwide, three million women die from stroke annually. In the U.S. in 2005, 87,000 women died of stroke as compared to 56,600 men. For women, age matters when it comes to risk factors. Once a woman reaches 45, her risk climbs steadily until at 65, it equal that of men. Although women aren't as likely to suffer from strokes as men in the middle years, they're more likely to be fatal if one occurs.

4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases 5.2% of deaths

Collectively, several respiratory illnesses that occur in the lower lungs all fall under the term "chronic lower respiratory disease": chronic obstructed pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, and chronic bronchitis. Typically, about 80% of these diseases are due to cigarette smoking. COPD is of particular concern to women since the disease manifests differently in females than males; symptoms, risk factors, progression and diagnosis all exhibit gender differences. In recent years, more women have been dying from COPD than men.

5. 3.9% of deaths

Several studies involving European and Asian populations have indicated that women have a much higher risk of Alzheimer's than men. This may be due to the female hormone estrogen, which has properties that protect against the memory loss that accompanies aging. When a woman reaches menopause, reduced levels of estrogen may play a role in her increased risk of developing Alzheimer's.

6. Unintentional injuries 3.3% of deaths

Under 'unintentional injuries' are six major causes of death: falling, poisoning, suffocation, drowning, fire/burns and motor vehicle crashes. While falls are of significant concern to women who are frequently diagnosed with osteoporosis in their later years, another health threat is on the rise -- accidental poisoning. According to the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Johns Hopkins, in a six-year study between 1999 and 2005, the rate of poisoning deaths in white women age 45-64 increased 230% as compared to the 137% increase experienced by white men in the same age.

7. Diabetes 3.1% of deaths

With 9.7 million women in the U.S. suffering from diabetes, the American Diabetes Association notes that women have unique health concerns because pregnancy can often bring about gestational diabetes. Diabetes during pregnancy can lead to possible miscarriages or birth defects. Women who develop gestational diabetes are also more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes later in life. Among African American, Native American, Asian American women and Hispanic women/Latinas, the prevalence of diabetes is two to four times higher than among white women.

8. and 2.7% of deaths

Public awareness of the dangers of influenza has spiked due to the H1N1 virus, yet influenza and pneumonia have posed ongoing threats to elderly women and those whose immune systems are compromised. Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to influenzas such as H1N1 and pneumonia.

9. 1.8% of deaths

Although the average woman is less likely to suffer from chronic kidney disease than a man, if a woman is diabetic, her chance of developing kidney disease increases and puts her equally at risk. Menopause also plays a role. Kidney disease occurs infrequently in premenopausal women. Researchers believe that estrogen provides protection against kidney disease, but once a woman reaches menopause, that protection is diminished. Researchers at Georgetown University's Center for the Study of Sex Differences in Health, Aging and Disease have found that sex hormones appear to affect non-reproductive organs such as the kidney. They note that in women, the absence of the hormone testosterone leads to a more rapid progression of kidney disease when they are diabetic.

10. 1.5% of deaths

The medical term for blood poisoning, septicemia is a serious illness that can rapidly turn into a life-threatening condition. Septicemia made headlines in January 2009 when Brazilian model and Miss World pageant finalist Mariana Bridi da Costa died from the disease after a urinary tract infection progressed to septicemia.

U.S. Death Trends Shifting

America's leading causes of death are changing, researchers report in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

The nation's six leading causes of death -- heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), accidents, and diabetes -- were traced from 1970 to 2002.

During that time, these trends emerged:

The researchers included Ahmedin Jemal, DVM, PhD, of the American Cancer Society.

Keeping Death at Bay

The trends are based on the age-standardized death rate. That's the number of people who die per 100,000 people of different age groups (40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s or older).

The age-standardized death rate from all causes fell 32% from 1970 to 2002.

Of course, life doesn't last forever. As America's population grows and ages, the nation's total number of deaths from those conditions continues to rise.

But those deaths are striking at older ages than before, write Jemal and colleagues.

Reasons for the Trends

The drop in four of the six leading causes of death shows "progress" in disease prevention and life extension, write the researchers.

Heart disease and stroke had bigger death rate drops than cancer. Deaths from all cancer types combined rose from 1970 to 1990, and then fell through 2002, write the researchers.

Stop-smoking efforts, speed limits, and seat belt laws probably helped more people live longer, write the researchers.

They note that America's obesity problem could be boosting diabetes deaths, and long-term effects of smoking could explain why COPD (emphysema and chronic bronchitis) deaths more than doubled.

Jemal and colleagues list these leading causes of death in 2002:

A Long, Healthy Life

It may be possible to cut your risk of many of those deadly conditions by quitting smoking, getting in shape, eating healthfully, staying active, and getting recommended health screenings.

Check in with your doctor or health care provider to learn how to add years to your life and life to your years.
Sources: Jemal, A. The Journal of the American Medical Association, Sept. 14, 2005; vol 294: pp 1255-1259. News release, JAMA/Archives.

Study: Deaths rates rising in middle-aged whites

The U.S. death rate has been falling for decades, but researchers have detected one group in which the rates have been steadily ticking up — middle-aged white people. Suicides and deaths from drug overdose and alcohol abuse are being blamed.

Deaths rates for other races have continued to fall, as they have for whites 65 and older. But death rates for whites 35 to 44 have been level recently, they're beginning to turn up for whites 55 to 64, and — most strikingly — death rates for whites ages 45 to 54 have risen by half a percent per year since 1998, said the authors, Anne Case and Angus Deaton of Princeton University.

The increase started in the late 1990s and probably is related to the increased availability around that time of certain prescription painkillers, they said.

"It certainly can't be helping," said Deaton, who last month was awarded a Nobel Prize in economics for unrelated work on consumer spending.

Their paper was published online Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Federal researchers have reported — repeatedly — on worrisome increases in deaths from suicides and drug overdoses. And they have noted the bulk of those deaths have been white and middle-aged. So the Case and Deaton findings aren't exactly surprising, said Robert Anderson, who oversees the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention branch that monitors death statistics.

But the Princeton pair brought a new lens to the government's statistics, breaking down death numbers by age and race in a way the government has not highlighted, he added.

"White Americans who are middle-aged were really doing worse, and that's not news we were hearing."

There has not been a similar increase in middle-aged people living in other affluent countries, the researchers said.

White death rates still are not nearly as bad as black rates — not even for those 45 to 54. The rate is about 415 deaths for every 100,000 white people in that age group. For blacks, it's 582 per 100,000.

U.S. death rates have been on a general decline for more than century, thanks mainly to public health measures and advances in medical treatment. In recent decades, the improvement has been driven by declines in death rates from heart disease and cancer — the nation's two leading killers.

But from time to time, death rates for certain demographics have gone up. That's generally happened in younger groups, who die in smaller numbers than the elderly and so have death rates that can be more easily swung. That happened with death rates for some age groups of white and black men during the height of the AIDS epidemic, for example, Anderson said.

Spread the Word

Of the 2.6 million deaths in 2013, about 123,000 — less than 5 percent — were in white, non-Hispanic people ages 45 to 54.

But why the increase in this particular age set? And why only in white people? And why has it been inching up for them for 15 years?

The new study cited national health survey data showing increases over time in the proportion of middle-aged white people who said they suffered physical pain, trouble with daily activities, and poor mental health.

Those problems are not unique to white people. But studies have found white patients with pain are more likely to be prescribed opioid painkillers. And whites have been more likely to attempt suicide when faced with physical or mental hardships, for a range of possible reasons that include smaller networks of social support, say other experts.

Education is also a factor. The study found among whites with a college degree, the death rates were actually quite low. But for whites who achieved no more than a high school diploma, they were a whopping 736 per 100,000.

But again, why that one age group?

It's not clear. But that is a particularly tough time in life to suffer a serious financial setback or a debilitating health problem, noted John Phillips, who oversees some of the National Institute on Aging's funding of research into what affects aging and health. The institute funded the study.

"You're supposed to be heading into your prime earning years, and far from being able to collect retirement benefits," he said. A job loss or other long-lasting hardship can be very hard to cope with, he added.

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