The 10 Ways You Are Most Likely To Die in America

Death is an unfortunate reality of life, but when, where, and how you die are largely determined by where you live. Your geography goes a long way toward determining your ultimate cause of death, as well as determining how many people in your area die the same way.
In America, we have a relatively long life-expectancy (78.8 years according to the CDC) but we have a relatively long list of things that are likely to kill us in this country. While we might be safe from wild animals and pirates, other issues like heart disease pose a serious threat.
Here are the top 10 ways you’re likely to die in America.

1. Heart Disease
In 2015, diseases of the heart killed approximately 633,842 Americans. It was the leading cause of death in both men and women, and is defined as “Any disorder that affects the heart,” not just a coronary artery disease as most people think. These disorders include arrhythmia, congenital heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, and pulmonary stenosis.

2. Malignant Neoplasms
Because cancer is not just one disease, but many, all cases are grouped under the umbrella of “malignant neoplasms.” The two main characteristics of malignant neoplasms are “uncontrolled growth of the cells in the human body” as well as “the ability of those cells to migrate from the original site and spread to distant site,” better known as metastasizing.313,818men and 282,112 women in the United States passed away in 2015 as a result of their cancer for a total of 595,930 Americans.

3. Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease
155,041 people in 2015 died as a result of chronic lower respiratory disease. This was the #4 cause of death for American men (72,498) and the #3 cause of death for American women (82,543). Chronic lower respiratory disease is actually three major diseases: chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma. The first two are irreversible, with asthma being the only one that has a chance at getting better. All of these diseases obstruct the airway in inhibit the flow of oxygen into the body. This is also different from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which only encompassed chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

4. Unintentional Injuries
Accidents and unintended injuries comprise 146,571 yearly deaths in the United States. It was the #3 cause of death in men (92,919) and the #6 cause of death in women (53,652). This is a pretty broad category and can mean anything like falling from a ladder while cleaning gutters, an accidental firearm discharge, or electrocuting yourself while trying to fix a light switch.

5. Cerebrovascular Disease
140,323 people in 2015 died from cerebrovascular disease, which is a disease of the arteries which supply the brain with blood. Often this is caused by atherosclerosis and can ultimately lead to a stroke. It was the #5 cause of death in men (58,288) and the #4 cause of death in women (82,305).

6. Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive and irreversible brain disorder that gradually destroys memory and thinking skills. Symptoms include forgetting basic details about current events, changes in sleep patterns, including waking up throughout the night, difficulty reading and/or writing, and delusions, depression, and irritability. One of the risk factors of developing this disease is being a woman, which is reflected in the CDC data, with Alzheimer’s Disease being the #5 cause of death among American women (76,871) and the #8 cause of death among American men (33,690) for a total of 110,561 victims. It is currently unknown exactly what causes the disease, which makes the search for a cure that much more difficult.

7. Diabetes Mellitus
More commonly known as “diabetes,” this deadly disease kills 79,535 Americans every year, and is the #6 cause of death in American men (43,123) and the #7 cause of death among American women (36,412). It is a disease which impairs the body’s ability to produce or respond to insulin which results in an abnormally high level of glucose in the blood. For more information on the types of diabetes as well as treatment, click here.

8. Influenza and Pneumonia
You would think that in 2017, we would have a handle on the flu as well as pneumonia, but these two diseases kill a total of 57,062 people every year, and is the #9 cause of death of men (26,903) and the #8 cause of death among women (30,159). Influenza (or the flu) is a highly contagious virus of the respiratory passages which can cause fever, severe aching, and catarrh (excessive buildup of mucous in the nose and throat). Pneumonia is a bacterial or viral infection which causes the sacs in the lung to fill up with pus and become solid.

9. Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis
Kidney disease by any other name kills approximately 49,959 Americans annually, including 24,518 women. (For American men, this doesn’t rank in the top 10 ways you can die in America, but is instead replaced with chronic liver disease and cirrhosis.) Nephritis is the inflammation of the kidneys, and nephrotic syndrome is a kidney disease which causes you to excrete an abnormally high amount of protein in your urine, otherwise known as “nephrosis.”

10. Suicide
In 2015, 44,193 Americans took their own lives, including 33,994 American men. (For American women, you are more likely to die from septicemia than from suicide, if that’s any comfort.) The groups that are most likely to have high rates of suicide (adjusted for population percentages) include white males (30,658), American Indian or Alaska Native males (426), Asian or Pacific Islander males (887), and Hispanic or Latino males (2,587).

Join the discussion.