What is the Leading Cause of Death in the U.S. in 2013? A Statistical Overview

Every year, millions of Americans die from various causes, ranging from chronic diseases to accidents. Knowing the leading causes of death can help us understand the health status and risks of the population, as well as the effectiveness of prevention and treatment strategies. In this article, we will examine the data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. in 2013, and compare them with the previous and subsequent years.

The Top 10 Causes of Death in 2013 the 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. in 2013 were, in rank order:

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases
  • Unintentional injuries
  • Stroke
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Diabetes
  • Influenza and pneumonia
  • Kidney disease
  • Suicide

These 10 causes accounted for 74% of all deaths in the U.S. in 2013, or 1,925,808 out of 2,596,993 total deaths. The age-adjusted death rate for the total population was 731.9 per 100,000 standard population, which did not change significantly from 2012.

The following table shows the number of deaths, the percentage of total deaths, and the age-adjusted death rate for each of the 10 leading causes of death in 2013, as well as the percentage change in the death rate from 2012.

RankCause of deathNumber of deathsPercent of total deathsAge-adjusted death ratePercent change in death rate from 2012
1Heart disease611,10523.5169.8-1.8
2Cancer584,88122.5163.2-1.5
3Chronic lower respiratory diseases149,2055.742.1-2.4
4Unintentional injuries130,5575.039.4+2.8
5Stroke128,9785.036.2-4.2
6Alzheimer’s disease84,7673.323.5+3.6
7Diabetes75,5782.920.9-2.4
8Influenza and pneumonia56,9792.215.9+4.9
9Kidney disease47,1121.813.2-1.5
10Suicide41,1491.612.6+2.4

Trends and Comparisons

The ranking of the 10 leading causes of death in 2013 remained the same as in 2012, except for two causes that exchanged ranks: unintentional injuries became the fourth leading cause, while stroke became the fifth. This was due to a slight increase in the death rate of unintentional injuries and a notable decrease in the death rate of stroke.

Among the 10 leading causes of death, four causes had significantly lower death rates in 2013 than in 2012: heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, and stroke. These causes are largely preventable or treatable with lifestyle changes, screening, and medication. The decline in their death rates reflects the progress made in public health and medical interventions.

On the other hand, two causes had significantly higher death rates in 2013 than in 2012: unintentional injuries and influenza and pneumonia. These causes are largely unpredictable and influenced by environmental and seasonal factors. The increase in their death rates reflects the challenges and risks faced by the population.

According to the World Health Organization2, the leading causes of death in the world in 2013 were:

  • Ischaemic heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Lower respiratory infections
  • Trachea, bronchus, and lung cancers
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Diarrhoeal diseases
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Road injury
  • Tuberculosis

Comparing the U.S. and the world data, we can see some similarities and differences. The top two causes of death, heart disease and stroke, are the same for both the U.S. and the world, indicating the global burden of cardiovascular diseases. However, the U.S. has a higher proportion of deaths from cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and suicide, while the world has a higher proportion of deaths from infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, diarrhoeal diseases, and tuberculosis. These differences reflect the disparities in income, health care, and sanitation among different regions and countries.

Conclusion

What is the leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2013? The answer is heart disease, followed by cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, and unintentional injuries. These causes, along with six others, account for most of the deaths in the U.S. in 2013. The trends and comparisons of the data reveal the achievements and challenges of the U.S. population in terms of health and well-being. By understanding the leading causes of death, we can identify the areas that need more attention and action, and the areas that show improvement and success.