Unintentional Injury Deaths On the Rise, CDC Reports

In its recent report on leading causes of death in the United States, the CDC estimates that the number of potentially preventable deaths decreased from 2010 to 2014 for three of the five leading causes of death (cancer, stroke and heart disease). However, deaths due to accidents, such as falls and drug overdoses, showed a significant increase. The fifth leading cause, chronic lower respiratory diseases (CLRD), showed a slight but nonsignificant increase.

Collectively, these five causes accounted for 63 percent of all deaths in 2014 for people under the age of 80. The table below summarizes the CDC’s findings on deaths that were avoidable over this five-year time span.

Cause of Death Avoidable Deaths in 2014 Change in Avoidable Deaths from 2010 to 2014
Cancer 15% –25%
Stroke 28% –11%
Heart disease 30% –4%
CLRD 36% +1%
Accidents (falls, overdoses) 43% +23%


“Fewer Americans are dying young from preventable causes of death,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD MPH. “Tragically, deaths from overdose are increasing because of the opioid epidemic, and there are still large differences between states in all preventable causes of death, indicating that many more lives can be saved through use of prevention and treatment available today.”

Preventable death estimates are important tools that help state and federal officials in directing prevention efforts and priorities. They are also used by health care providers to develop specific preventive services, such as smoking cessation and heart disease prevention programs.

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