America’s 10 Deadliest Diseases

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7. Influenza and pneumonia
> Total Deaths in 2013:
56,979

Flu and pneumonia are the most common infectious causes of death in America. The illnesses claimed a combined 56,979 lives in the United States in 2013. The mortality rate attributed to these diseases has decreased significantly over the past 15 years, from 22.8 to 18 deaths per 100,000 people. Certain forms of both pneumonia and influenza can be prevented with proper vaccination. Worldwide, vaccinations overall save roughly 6 million people per year, according to the World Health Organization. Many lives are saved due to the prevention of the flu and various infectious pnuemonias.

6. Diabetes mellitus
> Total Deaths in 2013:
75,578

Diabetes directly caused 75,578 deaths in 2013, the sixth highest death toll from a single disease in the United States. Further, diabetes is likely far more deadly than the numbers suggest. Only 10% of deaths of those with diabetes have the disease recorded on their death certificates. Diabetes is also a significant risk factor for stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, infection, and other diseases. The death rate attributed to diabetes has remained mostly stable over the 15-year reporting period from 1999 through 2013, decreasing slightly from 24.5 to 23.9 deaths per 100,000 people.

5. Alzheimer’s Disease
> Total Deaths in 2013:
84,767

The nearly 85,000 lives claimed by Alzheimer’s disease in 2013 is only part of the story. There are over 5 million Americans currently living with the disease. Not only does Alzheimer’s ruin lives and disrupt families, but also it takes a significant economic toll. The Alzheimer’s Association projects that the disease and other forms of dementia will cost the U.S. economy $236 billion in 2016 alone. As is the case with many of the deadliest diseases, Alzheimer’s is not entirely genetically predetermined. Based on evidence published in Lancet Neurology in 2014, approximately one-third of Alzheimer’s cases can be attributed to potentially avoidable risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and physical inactivity.

4. Stroke
> Total Deaths in 2013:
128,978

As is the case with many of the deadliest diseases in the country, the incidence of death attributable to stroke is decreasing. Over a decade and a half, the death rate from stroke has declined from 60.0 deaths per 100,000 people in 1999 to 40.8 deaths per 100,000 people in 2013. As with the associated decrease in deaths from heart disease, much of this can be attributed to declining smoking rates and improvement in the treatment of high blood pressure and cholesterol.