Leading Causes of Death in the US for 2010

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Heart diseases and respiratory diseases were among leading causes of death in 2010

December 26, 2013 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

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(dailyRx News) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report about the leading causes of death for the general US population.

The report listed heart disease, cancer and respiratory diseases as the leading causes of death in 2010 for the general population, while birth defects and low birth weight were the top two causes of death for infants.

The CDC reports that many of these diseases can be prevented with the right lifestyle habits, such as getting proper nutrition, being physically active and giving up smoking.

"Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and quit smoking."

This report was written by Melonie Heron, PhD, from the Division of Vital Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Heron determined the leading causes of death in the US in 2010 by age, sex and race.

The leading causes of death for the general US adult population included the following:

1. Heart diseases
2. Cancer
3. Respiratory diseases
4. Cerebrovascular diseases
5. Accidental injuries (e.g., car accident)
6. Alzheimer’s disease
7. Diabetes
8. Nephritis (inflammation of the kidney)
9. Flu and pneumonia
10. Suicide

All of these causes together accounted for 75 percent of all deaths in 2010, but heart disease and cancer alone accounted for about 48 percent of all deaths.

While heart disease and cancer were the top two leading causes of death for both men and women, the third leading cause of death for males was accidental injuries, while for women it was stroke.

For the younger population, under the age of 24, the most common cause of death was unintentional injuries. For the older populations, aged 65 and older, heart disease was the leading cause of death.

For American Indian or Alaska Native and Asian or Pacific Islander racial groups, cancer was the leading cause of death, but for blacks and whites it was heart disease.

Dr. Heron did find a decrease in the percentage of deaths from heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease from 2009 to 2010, but for the rest of the causes, the percentage of deaths increased.

The leading causes of death for infants included the following:

1. Birth defects
2. Low birth weight
3. Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
4. Maternal complications from pregnancy
5. Accidental injuries
6. Complications with placenta or umbilical cord
7. Bacterial infection
8. Respiratory problems
9. Problems with circulatory system (carries blood throughout the body)
10. Necrotizing enterocolitis (tissue death)

All of these causes combined were responsible for about 70 percent of all infant deaths in the US in 2010.

"This important report from the CDC reaffirms that as adults in America, we are most likely to die from a cardiovascular cause. Early identification and treatment of risk factors that can predispose one to the development of cardiovascular disease is very important," said Mohan Sathyamoorthy, MD, chief of the Baylor All Saints Medical Center Cardiovascular Division.

As the adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; talk to your doctor about your cardiovascular risk," Dr. Sathyamoorthy told dailyRx News.

This study was published on December 20 in the National Vital Statistics Reports.

Review Date: 
December 24, 2013
Last Updated:
January 5, 2014