The United States is a land of vast opportunity and wealth, so it should be no surprise to learn that much of what kills Americans is related to age and lifestyle. According to the most recent data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control, here are the ten ways a person is most likely to die in America.
First, heart disease.
Cardiovascular illnesses remain the number one killer of Americans for the past eighty years. That’s right: 8-0. One in four American dies of a heart attack, which is tragic considering the significant advances in cardiac medicine this country has made. Stay on top of your blood pressure and cholesterol to reduce your risk of being the 25 percent.
The C word, in all its incarnations, takes nearly 25 percent of our loved ones from us. Early detection, like all illnesses, remains key to increasing the survival rate. Advances in oncology are increasing the numbers of those who can say “I beat cancer” every year, but every cancer is different, and more research is clearly needed.
3. Chronic lower respiratory disease.
Smoking is the main contributing factor to this group of lung diseases that kill almost six percent of Americans a year. This includes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, bronchitis, and asthma.
This is the leading cause of death for persons aged 1-44, accounting for a little over five percent of American fatalities. It goes without saying that the younger we are, the less likely we are to die of disease, and the more likely we are to crash a car, fall off a ladder, or be felled in a freakish incident.
Cerebrovascular disease, which is frequently related to cardiovascular disease, ends the lives of five percent in the United States. Ischemic attacks of the brain or bleeding into the brain can produce a stroke, which deprives the brain of oxygen, leading to disability if not death.
Prevention is similar to the heart protocol: keep tabs on your blood pressure and cholesterol and don’t smoke. Your vascular system can only take so much abuse before it affects your heart or brain. And you really do need those.
6. Alzheimer’s Disease
Killing near four percent of Americans, this is not simply a matter of memory loss and personality change. It kills brain cells, which eventually leads to the body’s inability to carry out the functions of living.
Preventative measures include those of heart disease and stroke above, as well as staying mentally active. However, no one is entirely sure what causes Alzheimer’s yet. It does correlate with heart disease in that 80 percent of patients have both.
7. Diabetes mellitus.
Almost three percent of Americans die each year because their high blood glucose levels are wreaking havoc on every tissue in the body. We need glucose to live, but too much is like leaving the gas pump in the car, letting it spill out, and lighting it on fire.
Ninety percent (or more) of diabetes is adult onset and usually preventable. Once diagnosed, you can work with your doctor to lessen and, in some cases, reverse the damage.
8. Influenza and pneumonia.
Get your flu shot. It does not cause the flu. Do not be one of the 2.1 percent of Americans who die from this treatable disease. If you are at risk, you can also get a pneumonia shot. Both vaccines are usually free with your health plan, even the the lowest tier ones.
Yes, lots of people get over the flu without incident, but it can easily be joined by pneumonia, which inflames your lungs and makes even more difficult to breathe than the flu does.
Get the shot, wash your hands, and stay home from work if you get sick. Flu can get nasty very fast, especially for the immunocompromised among us.
9. Kidney disease.
A little less than two percent of Americans die when their kidneys can no longer filter their blood. You can help your kidneys out by limiting alcohol intake, quitting smoking, not overdoing it on pain medication…basically not overloading them with toxins to filter.
Sadly, 1.6 percent of Americans end their own lives each year. In a very real way, we could say that depression is an epidemic in the U.S. It is complicated by family violence, a family history of suicide, being incarcerated, and substance abuse.
This is the most preventable cause of death. If you are thinking about suicide, tell someone. If someone tells you they’re suicidal, listen. So many people have been on the verge, then held on and lived amazing lives. There is always help. Call 1-800-273-8255 any time if you need to talk.