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Deaths by selected major cause in the U.S. 2000-2017

The leading causes of death in the United States are by far cardiovascular diseases and cancer. However, the death rates from these diseases, as well as other leading causes of death, have decreased over the past few decades. The one major exception are deaths caused by Alzheimer’s disease, which have increased significantly.

Cardiovascular disease deaths

Although cardiovascular diseases are currently the leading cause of death in the United States, the death rate of these diseases has dropped significantly. In the year 1950, there were around 589 deaths per 100,000 population due to cardiovascular diseases. In the year 2017, this number was 165 per 100,000 population. Risk factors for heart disease include smoking, poor diet, diabetes, obesity, stress, family history, and age.

Alzheimer’s disease deaths

While the death rates for cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and chronic lower respiratory diseases have all decreased, the death rate for Alzheimer’s disease has increased. In fact, from the year 2000 to 2017, the death rate from Alzheimer’s disease rose an astonishing 145 percent. This increase is in part due to a growing aging population.

Selected major causes of deaths in the United States in 2000, 2010 and 2017

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Release date

October 2019


United States

Survey time period

2000, 2010 and 2017

Supplementary notes

Figures for 2000 were taken from the previous year's report.
* Including stroke.

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Statistics on "Death in the U.S."

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