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Leading Causes of Death

Narrative

In 2010, there were 1,219,545 deaths of women aged 18 and older in the United States. Of these deaths, nearly half were attributable to heart disease and malignant neoplasms (cancer), which were responsible for 23.8 and 22.4 percent of deaths, respectively. The next two leading causes of death were cerebrovascular diseases (stroke), which accounted for 6.3 percent of deaths, and chronic lower respiratory diseases, which accounted for 6.0 percent.

Heart disease was the leading cause of death for non-Hispanic White and non-Hispanic Black women, while cancer was the leading cause among all other racial and ethnic groups. One of the most noticeable differences in leading causes of death by race and ethnicity is that diabetes mellitus was a more prominent cause of death among minority women than non-Hispanic White women. Diabetes was the fourth leading cause of death among women of all racial and ethnic groups except non-Hispanic White women, for whom it ranked as the eighth leading cause. Conversely, chronic lower respiratory disease was a more prominent cause of death among non-Hispanic White women, ranking third for non-Hispanic White women versus sixth or higher for other racial and ethnic groups. Nephritis, or kidney inflammation, was the fifth leading cause of death among non-Hispanic Black women, but ranked eighth or ninth among women of other races and ethnicities.

Hypertension was the tenth leading cause among non-Hispanic Black and non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islander women, accounting for 2.1 and 2.0 percent of deaths, respectively. Also noteworthy is that non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native women experienced a higher proportion of deaths due to unintentional injury (7.5 percent; third leading cause of death) and liver disease (5.3 percent; fifth leading cause of death) than women of other racial and ethnic groups. Liver disease was also the tenth leading cause of death among Hispanic women, accounting for 2.1 percent of deaths (data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site).

Table

Data

Ten Leading Causes of Death Among Women Aged 18 and Older, by Race/Ethnicity, 2010
Cause of Death Total Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black Hispanic Non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islander Non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native
Percent of Deaths Rank Percent of Deaths Rank Percent of Deaths Rank Percent of Deaths Rank Percent of Deaths Rank Percent of Deaths Rank
N/A = not in the top 10 leading causes of death for this racial/ethnic group.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS). Accessed 03/30/12 and 06/11/12.
Heart Disease 23.8 1 23.8 1 24.8 1 22.0 2 17.2 2 21.7 2
Malignant Neoplasms (cancer) 22.4 2 22.0 2 23.3 2 23.6 2 20.0 1 28.8 1
Cerebrovascular Diseases (stroke) 6.3 3 6.2 4 6.6 3 6.3 3 4.4 7 8.7 3
Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease 6.0 4 6.6 3 3.0 6 3.2 7 5.3 6 2.4 8
4.8 5 5.2 5 2.7 7 3.7 6 2.5 9 3.1 6
Unintentional Injury 3.5 6 3.6 6 2.6 8 4.1 5 7.5 3 3.2 5
Diabetes Mellitus 2.8 7 2.3 8 4.7 4 5.2 4 6.3 4 3.7 4
Influenza and Pneumonia 2.2 8 2.2 7 N/A N/A 2.3 9 2.2 10 3.0 7
Nephritis (kidney inflammation) 2.1 9 1.9 9 3.5 5 2.5 8 2.7 10 2.4 9
Septicemia (blood poisoning) 1.5 10 1.4 10 2.4 9 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A