How Do Most Americans Die?

People in wealthy developed nations like America die of preventable and chronic disease, but what are the most common causes of death?

As you might expect from the name, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keep fastidious record of disease and death in our country. Our top killer you've probably already heard about: heart disease. In 2013, it killed 611,105 people. The runner-up was cancer, which killed 584,881. While these are probably among the most important diseases the CDC tracks, this world-class organization goes much farther in telling the tale of mortality and morbidity in our country.

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A lesser known statistic from the CDC is that from 1999 to 2003, 15 people died as a result of balloon accidents. During that same time span, 137 people died due to being "bitten or stung by a nonvenomous insect and other nonvenomous arthropods." These are statistics from CDC Wonder, an online database from the CDC that is rife with morbidly fascinating data. It is a record of death in America, classified by hospital codes with options to break the numbers down by years, age, gender, and various other categories. If something has killer potential, you will find a code for it here.

It's easy to get wrapped up in all the unusual accidents, misadventures, and encounters that can harm us. The unusual circumstances of injury or death from human stampedes, scorpion bites, or prolonged stays in weightless environments can capture our imaginations but you can be nearly certain none of these will cause your demise. If you are looking to live a long, healthy life, Step 1 won't be avoiding marine mammal attacks. Instead, as boring as it sounds, you're wellbeing will likely hinge on eating better, exercising more, and getting quality sleep.

Read more about the causes of death in the U.S.

CDC Wonder