You’re a good driver with a healthy respect for everyone you share the road with, but you can’t help but to give a death glare to every chimpanzee who is texting on his phone while driving. It’s only natural to think, “They’re going to kill someone!” Maybe they’ll wipe out while checking Instagram at the intersection, but according to stats from the Centers for Disease Control’s 2015 reports, you are far more likely to die from the following causes:
- 1. Diseases of heart. There’s a good reason that “heart healthy” public service announcements are so prevalent across the radio, internet, and television these days — nearly one out of every four Americans kicks the bucket due to a heart-related disease.
- Malignant neoplasms. Better known as cancer, this terrible condition is responsible for about 22 percent of all American deaths each year.
- Chronic lower respiratory diseases. While cancer and heart disease combined claim the lion’s share with approximately 45.5 percent of all American deaths per year, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, and other lung diseases caused 5.7 percent of deaths in 2015.
- Accidents (unintentional injuries). This one surprised me, as accidental deaths, including unintentional falls, traffic accidents, and accidental poisonings, resulted in 5.4 percent of the deaths recorded in 2015.
- Cerebrovascular diseases. Most commonly referred to as a stroke, which caused about 5.2 percent of 2015’s victims.
- Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia brought about 4.1 percent of all American deaths in 2015.
- Diabetes mellitus. The good news is that the remainder of the CDC’s American mortality data features causes of death that are under 3 percent of the total death toll, but diabetes still takes the credit for 2.9 percent of yearly fatalities.
- Influenza and pneumonia. The flu and this lung infection are commonly contracted by Americans, and they directly cause 2.1 percent of all deaths in the US.
- Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis. Kidney-related diseases result in about 1.8 percent of all American mortalities annually.
- Intentional self-harm (suicide). Sadly, 1.6% of America’s deaths are suicides.
- Septicemia. Also known as sepsis, serious bloodstream infections lead to 1.5% of all American deaths.
- Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis. Often stemming from alcohol use or viral strains of hepatitis, liver diseases cause about 1.5 percent of deaths in the US annually.
- Essential hypertension and hypertensive renal disease: High blood pressure, and the conditions that come with it, cause approximately 1.2 percent of all U.S. deaths.
- Parkinson’s disease. This serious nervous system disorder is directly responsible for one percent of all mortalities in the United States.
- Pneumonitis due to solids and liquids. Various instances of lung inflammation are around .7 percent of yearly American deaths.
Although the fifteen conditions listed above, especially heart disease and cancer, are the most common reasons Americans die in most states, I found some particularly grim, yet interesting stats in the CDC’s data collection. For instance…
Yes, you hear about certain parts of the country that have a reputation for being rife with assault and homicide, but did you know that people in the District of Columbia are statistically far more likely to die from an assault than anywhere else in the United States? The second and third most dangerous states where fatal attacks are more common are Alaska and Maryland, respectively.
More people commit suicide in Alaska than any other state, followed by Wyoming and Utah. For whatever reason, the data collected seem to show a trend that suicides are more likely to occur in Western states, like South Dakota and Nevada…
Vermont has the highest concentration of Parkinson’s disease-related deaths, followed by a handful of states like Hawaii, Idaho, and Iowa.
Heart disease and cancer are easily the most common way for Americans to die, and are always the first and second cause of death in each state, but you are more likely to die from heart disease in 30 states and to die from cancer in the other 20. About half of America dies from either one or the other, and the next major leading causes of death don’t claim nearly as many lives as cancer and heart disease do.
The residents of New Mexico and Alaska are statistically more likely to die from some form of chronic liver disease, while people living in Kansas and Maryland are far less likely to suffer from a fatal liver disease.
The four states with the highest rates of fatal drug overdoses are West Virginia, New Hampshire, Kentucky, and Ohio. The majority of overdose-related deaths involved various opioids, followed by heroin, cocaine, and psychostimulants.
As creepy as it may be to read through the data about how common it is for Americans to pass away from the same few diseases, there is a silver lining: we live in a nation with top-tier medical care, and we are blessed to live in the United States, where deadly diseases like measles, various common, yet fatal mosquito-borne illnesses, and yellow fever aren’t considered a major nationwide threat. If we could only solve cancer and completely prevent heart conditions, America would be set!