5 Leading Causes Of Death In The United States [Infographic]

Causes Of Death In The United States

Many Americans die each year due to preventable chronic diseases. Studies have shown that investments in community-based prevention programs not only help to improve health outcomes, but also can save costs by avoiding costly treatments in the future.

To learn more checkout the following infographic, created by the Adventist University of Health Sciences Online RN BSN program.



Top 5 Causes Of Death In The United States

In 2013, the top 5 causes of death accounted for over 62% of deaths in the country. The top 5 killers included cancer, heart disease, chronic lower respiratory diseases, accidents and strokes.


1. Heart Disease

Heart disease accounted for over 23.5% of deaths in 2013, making it the number one killer. It claimed the lives of 611,105 people. Over 92,000 of these deaths, or 34%, could have been prevented by tackling the risk factors.

Risk Factors For Heart Disease

For instance, stopping tobacco use, eating a healthy diet and increasing physical activity can help in reducing the risk of developing heart disease. Other risk factors include; high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and obesity.


2. Cancer

Cancer is number two on the list of top 5 killers. It claimed the lives of 584,881 people in 2013. This accounts for 22.5% of deaths in the country during that year. However, 21% of these deaths, or 84,500 deaths, could have been prevented by tackling the risk factors.

Risk Factors For Cancer

Increasing physical activity, stopping tobacco use, minimizing alcohol consumption and adopting healthy eating habits can help in reducing the risk of developing cancer.


Using a suitable sunscreen or sunblock lotion, avoiding sources of ionizing radiation, and certain chemicals and pathogens can also help to reduce the risk of developing some types of cancer.

3. Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases

Chronic lower respiratory diseases are number three on the list of top killers in the country, accounting for over 5.7% of all deaths, or 141,205 deaths/yearly. About 39%, or 29,000, of these deaths could have been prevented.


Risk Factors for Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases

Some of the risk factors include – exposure to occupational agents, outdoor air pollutants, tobacco smoke and second hand smoke, allergens and indoor air pollutants.

Simple measures, such as stopping tobacco use, smoking in designated locations and installing the recommended air filters in HVAC systems can help to minimize exposure to airborne impurities that are known to cause chronic lower respiratory diseases.


4. Accidents

In 2013, there were 130,557 accidental deaths in the country. This accounted for 5% of all deaths during that year. About 33,000 of these deaths could have been prevented.

Risk Factors For Accidents

These accidental deaths resulted from; use of unsafe consumer products, lack of seat belt use in automobiles, lack of helmet use when riding a motorcycle or bicycle, drug and alcohol use, exposure to occupational hazards as well as unsafe home and community environments.


5. Strokes

The number of deaths attributed to strokes in the year 2013 stood at 128,978, which is approximately 5.9% of all deaths in the U.S. during that year.

Risk Factors For Strokes

Stoke is associated with lack of physical activity, diabetes, alcohol and tobacco use, obesity, previous strokes, heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. A few lifestyle changes can help counter these risk factors.

A crucial point to note is that 4 out of every 5 deaths are linked to tobacco use. Currently, over 16 million Americans are living with diseases caused by smoking. 480,000 people die annually due to smoking, while a whooping 41,000 die annually because of exposure to second-hand smoke.

Type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease and certain types of cancer are associated with obesity risks. Unfortunately, 34.9% of the American population, or 78.6 million people, are obese. Obesity is known to cost the U.S. economy over $147 billion every year.

How States Are Being Prevention Proactive

  • Many states now have programs to encourage businesses to adopt wellness policies.
  • They are also providing communities with safe walking routes to promote physical activity.
  • Most states are also increasing access to educational programs for risk reduction, prevention and management of chronic diseases with a focus on diabetes.
  • Local governments have also expanded tobacco-free, multi-unit housing environments throughout their jurisdictions.
  • Some states also have a goal to create a baby-friendly hospital designation in at least one local hospital system.
  • By increasing healthy food options through farmer distribution agreements and community gardens, some states are helping to ensure local residents eat healthily.

ROI (Return On Investment) From Health Promotions

Investments in health promotion programs aiming at increasing physical activity, preventing smoking, improving nutrition and reducing exposure to tobacco smoke have considerable returns.

For Smoking Cessation Programs

For instance, an annual investment of $10/person in these programs can save the economy over $16 billion annually within 5 years. On the other hand, an investment of $1/person on smoking cessation programs can save each person an average of $3.12 in cardiovascular-related hospital expenditures.

For Asthma Management, Coaching And Education Programs

Asthma management education and coaching programs have a return of $4.40, in savings on asthma-related medical expenses, for every dollar invested.

For Diabetes And Congestive Heart Failure Education Programs

A return of $4.34 can be expected from every $1 invested in diabetes and congestive heart failure education.