Selected Causes of Death in the US


Cause of death (Data from 2018 unless otherwise noted) Number
All Causes 2,839,205
Major Cardiovascular Diseases [MCD] 863,834
   Diseases of Heart [subset of MCD]    655,381
   Cerebrovascular Diseases [subset of MCD]    147,810
   Essential Hypertension and Hypertensive Renal Disease [subset of MCD]    35,835
Malignant Neoplasms [Cancer] 599,274
Deaths Attributed to Tobacco Smoking (Each year from 2005 through 2009)1 480,320
Medical Errors (2013 estimate) 251,454
Accidents (Unintentional Injuries) [Total] 167,127
   Motor Vehicle Accidents [subset of Total Accidents]    39,404
Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases 159,486
Alzheimer's Disease 122,019
Diabetes Mellitus 84,946
Drug-Induced Deaths2 71,147
Influenza and Pneumonia 59,120
Nephritis, Nephrotic Syndrome and Nephrosis 51,386
Intentional Self-Harm (Suicide) 48,344
Chronic Liver Disease and Cirrhosis 42,838
   Alcoholic Liver Disease [subset of Chronic Liver Disease and Cirrhosis]    23,172
Septicemia 40,718
Injury by Firearms 39,740
Alcohol-Induced Deaths 37,329
Parkinson Disease 33,829
Pneumonitis Due to Solids and Liquids 19,239
Assault (Homicide) 18,830
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Disease 5,425
Viral Hepatitis 4,842
All Illicit Drugs Combined (2000)3 17,0002
Cannabis (Marijuana)4 0

2016 Data Detailing Drug-Induced Deaths,
Breaking Out Specific Data for Natural and Semi-Synthetic Opioids (including Oxycodone), Synthetic Opioids (including Fentanyl), and Heroin,
as Reported by the CDC7
Total Deaths Attributed to Drug Overdose 63,632
Overdose Deaths Involving Any Opioid 42,249
Overdose Deaths Involving Heroin 15,469
Overdose Deaths Involving Natural and Semi-Synthetic Opioids 14,487
Overdose Deaths Involving Methadone 3,373
Overdose Deaths Involving Synthetic Opioids Other Than Methadone 19,413

2014 Data Detailing Drug-Induced Deaths,
Breaking Out Specific Data for Prescription Analgesics and Heroin,
as Reported by the CDC5
Drug Overdose Total 47,055
Deaths Involving Pharmaceutical Opioid Analgesics 18,893
Deaths Involving Heroin 10,574

2010 Drug Overdose Mortality Data In Detail,
Reported By Paulozzi et al.6
Drug Overdose Total 38,329
Deaths Involving Pharmaceutical Drugs 22,134
Deaths Involving Pharmaceutical Opioids 16,651

1 Estimated number of deaths annually 2005-2009. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014.

2 Re drug-induced deaths: "This category includes deaths from poisoning and medical conditions caused by use of legal or illegal drugs, as well as deaths from poisoning due to medically prescribed and other drugs. It excludes deaths indirectly related to drug use, as well as newborn deaths due to the mother's drug use."

3 Mokdad, Ali H., PhD, James S. Marks, MD, MPH, Donna F. Stroup, PhD, MSc, Julie L. Gerberding, MD, MPH, "Actual Causes of Death in the United States, 2000," Journal of the American Medical Association, (March 10, 2004), G225 Vol. 291, No. 10, 1242.

4 No recorded cases of overdose deaths from cannabis have been found in extensive literature reviews, see for example Gable, Robert S., "The Toxicity of Recreational Drugs," American Scientist (Research Triangle Park, NC: Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, May-June 2006) Vol. 94, No. 3, p. 207.

5 CDC/NCHS, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality File, 2015, last accessed Dec. 11, 2015.

6 Paulozzi et al analyzed mortality figures and found that of 38,329 drug overdose deaths then reported in 2010, pharmaceutical drugs accounted for 22,134 deaths, of which 16,651 were opiod analgesic overdoses. The data were apparently revised slightly between the time the research letter was published in JAMA (February 2013) and release of the CDC's Deaths: Final Data for 2010 publication report, officially dated May 8, 2013.

7 Hedegaard H, Warner M, Miniño AM. Drug overdose deaths in the United States, 1999–2016. NCHS Data Brief, no 294. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2017.

Source: 

Murphy SL, Xu JQ, Kochanek KD, Arias E, Tejada-Vera B. Deaths: Final data for 2018. National Vital Statistics Reports; vol 69 no 13. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2020.
Hedegaard H, Warner M, Miniño AM. Drug overdose deaths in the United States, 1999–2016. NCHS Data Brief, no 294. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2017.
CDC/NCHS, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality File, 2015, last accessed Dec. 11, 2015.
Hedegaard H, Chen LH, Warner M. Drug poisoning deaths involving heroin: United States, 2000–2013. NCHS data brief, no 190. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2015.
Chen LH, Hedegaard H, Warner M. Drug-poisoning deaths involving opioid analgesics: United States, 1999–2011. NCHS data brief no. 166. Hyattsville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2014, p. 1.
Christopher M. Jones, PharmD, Karin A. Mack, PhD, and Leonard J. Paulozzi, MD, "Pharmaceutical Overdose Deaths, United States, 2010," Journal of the American Medical Association, February 20, 2013, Vol 309, No. 7, p. 658.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014. Printed with corrections, January 2014, p. 660, Table 12.4
Makary Martin A, Daniel Michael. Medical error—the third leading cause of death in the US. British Medical Journal 2016; 353 :i2139