Facts + Statistics: Mortality risk

According to the CDC data and reports, in 2020:  

  • The top three leading causes of death  in the United States were heart disease, cancer, and COVID-19.  
  • The U.S. had nearly 92,000 drug overdose deaths. The top states for the number of drug poisoning deaths  were California, Florida, and Ohio. However, the states that had the most drug poisoning deaths per 100,000 people were West Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Kentucky.   
  • The states with the highest death rate from firearms  were Mississippi, Louisiana, and Wyoming, while the states with the most deaths were Texas, California, and Florida. The total number of firearm deaths in 2020 was 45,000.   
  •  According to the  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 36,000 fatal traffic crashes occurred in 2020.  

 
Major causes of death

 
Top 10 Leading Causes Of Death, 2020

 

Rank (1) Cause of death Number of deaths Rate (2)
1 Heart disease 696,962 168.2
2 Malignant neoplasms (cancer) 602,350 144.1
3 COVID-19 350,831 85.0
4 Accidents (unintentional injuries) 200,955 57.6
5 Cerebrovascular diseases (stroke) 160,264 38.8
6 Chronic lower respiratory diseases 152,657 36.4
7 Alzheimer's disease 134,242 32.4
8 Diabetes 102,188 24.8
9 Influenza and pneumonia 53,544 13.0
10 Kidney disease 52,547 12.7
  All other causes 877,189 NA
  All deaths 3,383,729 835.4

(1) Based on number of deaths.
(2) Deaths per 100,000 U.S. standard population.

NA=Not applicable.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality.

View Archived Tables

 
Odds of dying from accidental injuries

The chart below shows the likelihood, or odds, of dying as a result of a specific type of accident. The odds of dying over a one-year period are based on the U.S. population as a whole, not on participants in any particular activity or on how dangerous that activity may be. For example, more people are killed in auto accidents than in motorcycle accidents or airplane crashes, not because riding a motorcycle or traveling in an airplane is more or less dangerous, but because far more people travel by car.

 
Odds Of Death In The United States By Selected Cause Of Injury, 2020 (1)

 

Cause of death Number of deaths,2020 One-year odds Lifetime odds
Accidental poisoning by
and exposure to
noxious substances (2)
87,404 3,770 49
Drug poisoning 83,558 3,943 51
Opioids (including both
legal and illegal)
64,183 5,134 67
All motor vehicle accidents 42,339 7,782 101
Car occupants 6,802 48,439 629
Pedestrians 7,904 41,686 541
Motorcycle riders 5,353 61,551 799
Assault by firearm 19,383 16,999 221
Exposure to smoke, fire
and flames
2,951 111,652 1,450
Fall on and from stairs
and steps
2,669 123,449 1,603
Drowning and submersion
while in or falling into
swimming pool
740 445,249 5,782
Fall on and from
ladder or scaffolding
576 572,021 7,429
Firearms
discharge (accidental)
400 823,710 10,698
Air and space
transport accidents
364 905,176 11,756
Cataclysmic storm (3) 122 2,700,690 35,074
Flood 37 8,904,976 115,649
Bitten or struck by dog 62 5,314,260 69,016
Earthquake and other
earth movements
34 9,690,710 125,853
Lightning 17 (4) (4)

(1) Based on fatalities and life expectancy in 2020. Ranked by deaths in 2020.
(2) Includes all types of medications including narcotics and hallucinogens, alcohol and gases.
(3) Includes hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, dust storms and other cataclysmic storms.
(4) Rates based on less than 20 deaths are likely to be unstable from year to year and are therefore not included.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics; National Safety Council.

View Archived Tables

 
The opioid crisis

 

 

 

View Archived Graphs

 
Top 10 States By Drug Poisoning Deaths and Death Rates, 2020 (1)

 

  By number of deaths   By deaths per 100,000 people (2)
Rank State Number of 
of deaths
Deaths per
100,000 people (2)
Rank State Number of 
of deaths
Deaths per
100,000 people
1 California 8,908 21.8 1 West Virginia 1,330 81.4
2 Florida 7,231 35.0 2 District of Columbia 424 58.1
3 Ohio 5,204 47.2 3 Kentucky 2,083 49.2
4 Pennsylvania 5,168 42.4 4 Delaware 444 47.3
5 New York 4,965 25.4 5 Ohio 5,204 47.2
6 Texas 4,172 14.1 6 Tennessee 3,034 45.6
7 Illinois 3,549 28.1 7 Maryland 2,771 44.6
8 North Carolina 3,146 30.9 8 Louisana 1,896 42.7
9 Tennessee 3,034 45.6 9 Pennsylvania 5,168 42.4
10 New Jersey 2,840 32.1 10 Maine 496 39.7

(1) Drug overdose caused by prescription and illegal drugs.
(2) Rates are age-adjusted using the direct method and the 2000 U.S. standard population, except for age-specific crude rates. All rates are per 100,000 population.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

View Archived Tables

 
Additional Resources

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatal Crash Statistics

World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 Numbers at a Glance (scroll to middle of page)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID Data Tracker

National Center for Health Statistics, Mortality in the United States

CDC Drug Overdose information

CDC, National Center for Health Statistics Firearm Mortality by State

National Vital Statistics System, Provisional Life Expectancy Estimates for 2021

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