The 10 leading causes of death in the United States remained unchanged over the past year, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Though life expectancy at birth decreased to 78.6 years in 2017, down from 78.7 years in 2016, that change was driven primarily by suicide and drug overdose.
However, heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States, at 165 deaths per 100,000 individuals in 2017. This represents a slight, statistically nonsignificant, decrease from the 165.5 deaths per 100,000 caused by heart disease in the previous year.
Other diseases related to cardiometabolic health saw increases. Stroke and diabetes each caused a small but significant increase in deaths in 2017, which saw a 1-year increase to 37.6 from 37.3 stroke deaths per 100,000 people. Diabetes deaths increased to 21.5 from 21 per 100,000 the previous year. Stroke was the fifth and diabetes the seventh most common cause of death, according to the data brief published by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).
Alzheimer’s disease deaths also increased significantly, from 30.3 per 100,000 in 2016 to 31 per 100,000 in 2017. Although Alzheimer’s exact etiology remains under study, cardiovascular disease factors and Alzheimer’s disease share many risk factors and are often comorbid .
“With a slight decrease in deaths from heart disease in 2017 and a slight increase in deaths from stroke, this lack of any major movement in these areas has been a trend we’ve seen the last couple of years,” said, president of the American Heart Association, in a press release. “It is discouraging after experiencing decades when heart disease and stroke death rates both dropped more dramatically.”
Infant deaths from congenital malformations decreased from 2016 to 2017, from 122.1 to 118.8 deaths per 100,000 live births. “While the report doesn’t specify death rates for specific types of congenital malformations, this is heartening news as it could reflect fewer deaths from congenital heart defects,” said the AHA in its release.
According to the CDC, the 10 leading causes of death together account for about three quarters of United States deaths. Cancer caused nearly as many deaths as heart disease – 152.5 per 100,000. This represented a significant decrease from the 155.8 cancer deaths per 100,000 seen in 2016. The remaining top 10 causes of death, in decreasing order, were unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory diseases, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease, and suicide.