Between 2000 and 2012, according to World Health Organization ( W.H.O. ), the 5 leading causes of death in the world include; Heart disease, Stroke, Lower respiratory infections, Cancer and Accidents.
Diarrhea is no longer among the 5 leading causes of death, but it is still among the top 10, killing 1.5 million people in 2012 alone. Other chronic diseases cause increasing number of deaths worldwide. Lung cancer caused 1.6 million deaths in 2012 according to WHO. Similarly, diabetes caused 1.5 million deaths in 2012. HIV deaths decreased slightly from 1.7 million deaths in 2000 to 1.5 million deaths in 2012.

Malnutrition can be identified as an underlying cause for shortened life. 70 percent of childhood deaths ( age 0 – 4 ) are reportedly due to diarrheal illness, acute respiratory infection, malaria and immunizable disease. This is for both developing and developed economies of the world.
For this article, we are goning to look at the 5 leading causes of death in the United States. Nearly 70 percent of deaths in the US are all attributed to just 5 causes with the top three of these accounting for over 50 percent of all the deaths.

Over the last five years, the main causes of deaths in the US have remained consistent, although unintentional injuries ( accidents ) became the fourth leading cause of death while stoke became the fifth in 2013.

Before we examine the leading causes of deaths in the United States, you have to note these basic facts. The most recent data, ( 2013 ) reveals that annually there 2,596,993 deaths registered in the US
– 1,306,034 Males
– 1,290,959 Females
– An age adjjusted death rate, which accounts for the aging population, of 731.9 deaths per 100,000 US standard populaion.
– Life expectancy at birth is about 78.8 years.
Leading Causes Of Deaths In The United States
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1. Heart Disease

Heart disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the US and also the leading cause of death worldwide. More than half of the deaths that occur due to heart disease are in men. Heart disease accounts for about 611,105 deaths in the US each year.
Heart disease is a term used to describe several conditions, many of which are related to plaque build up in the walls of the arteries. The key to preventing deaths from heart disease is to protect the heart and know the warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack.

Warning Signs
The warning signs include;
– Breathlessness
– Chest pain
– Pain and discomfort in the upper body, arms, neck, jaw or upper stomach.
– Nausea
– Light headedness
– Cold sweats

Protecting the heart include lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol by;
– the use of medications
– eating a diet that is low in salt, refined sugar and saturated fats and high in fruits and vegetables.
– exercise regularly
– avoid excessive intake of alcohol
– quit smoking
– take steps to reduce stress levels.

2. Cancer

Cancer – a leading cause of death

Cancer affects people of all ages, gender, races and ethnicity. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the US with about 584,881 deaths, each year according to the National Institute of Health ( N.I.H. ).

Cancer is a group of diseases characterized by uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells in the body. When it is not controlled, it will eventually interfere with essential life sustaining part or systems in the body and result in death.

Anyone can develop cancer, but the risk of most types of cancer increases with age, exposure to carcinogens such as from smoking and as a result of genetic factors. There are different types of cancer in both men and women, such as;
– lung and bronchus
– prostate
– colon and rectum
– pancreas
– skin
– liver
– leukemia
– esophagus
– urinary bladder
– kidney and renal pelvis
– breast
– ovary
– uterine
– brain and other nervous system.
In all, lung cancer accounts for more deaths than any other cancer in both men and women.

Cancer Prevention
The World Cancer Research Fund has estimated that up to one-third of cancer cases that occur in developed countries like the US are related to being overweight, obese, inactivity or having poor nutrition. Smoking and heavy intake of alcohol. These are all potentially preventable through behavoral changes and use protective vaccinations and antibiotic treatments.
3. Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease
Next is chronic lower respiratory disease which is a collection of lung diseases that cause airflow blockage and breathing related issues including chronic pulmonary disease, bronchitis and asthma. It is the third leading cause of death in the US with about 149,205 deaths each year.

Warning Signs
The warning signs includes;
– difficulty in breathing, especially when active.
– persistent cough with phlegm.
– frequent chest infections.
Smoking is the primary risk factor. Although exposure to air pollutants at home or workplace, genetic factors and respiratory infections also play a role. You should try to avoid all these.

4. Accidents

An accident scene

Accidents also referred to as unintentional injuries are at present the fourth leading cause of deaths in the US and the leading cause of deaths for those between the ages of 1 to 45 with about 130,557 deaths each year.
Data for accidents includes;
– motor vehicle accidents
– water, air and space accidents
– accidntal discharge of firearms
– falls
– accidental exposure to smoke, fire and flames
– accidental poisoning

While accidents are unintentional, there are many ways in which to reduce the risk of accidental deaths, such as adherence to road safty codes. Self control over the use of narcotics and alcohol, enforcement of environmental safety measures.

5. Stroke

Stroke: The silent killer
Foto credit: Darpan health

Cerebrovascular diseases are conditions that develop as a result of problems with blood vessels that saupply the brain. Every year, more than 795,000 people in the US have a stroke. Risk of having stroke varies with age, race, ethnicity and geography. The highest death rate resulting from stroke in the US occur in the south-east.

Warning Signs
Warning signs includes;
– numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg especially on one side of the body.
– confusion
– trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
– trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or lack of coordination.
– severe headaches with no known cause.
During a stroke, every second counts. FAST treatment can reduce the brain damage that stroke can cause.

High lood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking are the major risk factors for stroke. Several other medical conditions and unhealthy lifetyle choices can increase your risk factor for stroke.
Stroke prevention methods include;
– eating a healthy diet
– maintaining a healthy weight
– getting enough exercise
– no smoking
– limiting alcohol intake
– controlling your blood pressure
– managing diabetes
– taking medicine correctly
– staying hydrated



  1. World Health Organization,2013 articles
  2.  National Institute of Health 2013 newsletters
  3.  Internet health database


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