Top 10 Fatal Diseases

Americans are living longer, healthier lives and only the mortality rate from Alzheimer's disease is increasing among the top 10 causes of death, the U.S. federal government reported.

Alzheimer's disease moved to seventh place from eighth place among the leading causes of death in 2004, passing influenza and pneumonia, the National Center for Health Statistics reported.

"The life expectancy of Americans in 2004 -- 77.9 years -- is the highest it has ever been," the NCHS said in a statement.
"The life expectancy for women in the United States is 80.4 years; the life expectancy for U.S. men is 75.2 years. The life expectancy gender gap is narrowing -- the 5.2 year difference in 2004 was the smallest difference since 1946."

This is because there was a 7.3 percent drop in the death rate from influenza and pneumonia, while there was a 1.4 percent increase in the death rate from Alzheimer's.
The NCHS, part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reported that 2.39 million Americans died in 2004.

The U.S. death rate fell to a record low of 801 deaths per 100,000 people, down from nearly 833 deaths per 100,000 in 2003. Overall, 50,000 fewer people died between 2003 and 2004, the biggest one-year drop in decades.

The 10 leading causes of death in 2004 were:

- Heart disease - 654,000 deaths
- Cancer - 550,000 deaths
- Stroke - 150,000 deaths
- Chronic lower respiratory diseases - 123,000
- Accidents - 108,000
- Diabetes - 72,800
- Alzheimer's disease - 65,829
- Influenza and pneumonia - 61,472
- Kidney disease - 42,762
- Septicemia (blood infection) 33,464

According to the CDC in Atlanta, the top ten fatal diseases as of 2002 are:

1. Heart Disease (mainly heart attacks) 28.5%
2. Cancer 22.8%
3. Stroke/CVA 6.7%
4. COPD/Emphysema/Chronic Bronchitis 5.1%
5. Diabetes 3%
6. Flu/Pneumonia 2.7%
7. Alzheimers Disease 2.4%
8. Kidney Disease 1.7%
9. Septicemia/Systemic Infection 1.4%
10.Liver Disease/Cirrhosis 1.1%

The leading causes of death in 2000 were tobacco (435 000 deaths; 18.1% of total US deaths), poor diet and physical inactivity (400 000 deaths; 16.6%), and alcohol consumption (85 000 deaths; 3.5%). Other actual causes of death were microbial agents (75 000), toxic agents (55 000), motor vehicle crashes (43 000), incidents involving firearms (29 000), sexual behaviors (20 000), and illicit use of drugs (17 000).

The data shows that smoking remains the leading cause of mortality. However, poor diet and physical inactivity may soon overtake tobacco as the leading cause of death. These findings, along with escalating health care costs and aging population, argue persuasively that the need to establish a more preventive orientation in the US health care and public health systems has become more urgent.

43,005 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2002 and that motor vehicle traffic crashes were the 8th-leading cause of death among all ages that year. Broken down by age, crashes were the No. 1 cause of death for every age from 3 through 33.

Causes Of Global Death And Disease In The Next 25 Years

In 1993, the World Bank sponsored the 1990 Global Burden of Disease study carried out by researchers at Harvard University and the World Health Organization (WHO). This study provided the first comprehensive global estimates of death and illness by age, sex, and region. It also provided projections of the global burden of disease and mortality up to 2020.

The study and its projections have been crucial in national and international health policy planning. Colin Mathers and Dejan Locar (from the World Health Organization, Geneva) have now updated the projections based on 2002 data on mortality and burden of disease and published their results in the international open-access journal PLoS Medicine.

As for the earlier report, the researchers used projections of socio-economic development to model future patterns of mortality and illness for three different scenarios: a baseline scenario, a pessimistic scenario that assumes a slower rate of socio-economic development, and an optimistic scenario that assumes a faster rate of growth.

They predict that between 2002 and 2030 under all three scenarios life expectancy will increase around the world, fewer children under the age of 5 years will die, and the proportion of people dying from non-communicable diseases such as heart disease and cancer will increase. Although deaths from infectious diseases will decrease overall, HIV/AIDS deaths will continue to increase.

Despite this increase, 50% more people are predicted to die of tobacco-related disease than of HIV/AIDS in 2015. By 2030, the three leading causes of illness will be HIV/AIDS, depression, and ischemic heart disease in the baseline and pessimistic scenarios. In the optimistic scenario, road-traffic accidents (which increase with socioeconomic development) will replace heart disease as the number 3 killer.

Citation: Mathers CD, Loncar D (2006) Projections of global mortality and burden of disease from 2002 to 2030. PLoS Med 3(11): e442.

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