Main Causes Of Death In Women
Top 10 Causes Of Death In American Women

Health Topics


picture of car accident
Unintentional Accidents
Leading cause of death in women aged 20 to 34.

What Diseases Kill Women?

Contents

Top 10 Female Killers
Cause Of Death By Race
Cause of Death By Age


Also: Latest Health Statistics

TOP 10 Causes Of Death

The following is a list of the top 10 causes of death in American women. NOTE: This is not a list of the diseases women get - for example, the rates of breast cancer and lung cancer are fairly similar, it's just that lung cancer is more likely to kill you.

Cause of Death % Of Deaths Extra Notes on Signs
1. Heart disease
2. Cancer
Top 3 cancers that kill are:
-- Lung cancer (39 percent)
-- Breast cancer (22.5 percent)
-- Colon cancer (14 percent)

3. Stroke
4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases
5. Alzheimer's disease
6. Unintentional injuries (accidents)
7. Diabetes
8. Influenza and pneumonia
9. Kidney disease
10. Septicemia
25 percent

22 percent



6.7 percent
5.5 percent
4.3 percent
3.6 percent
2.9 percent
2.3 percent
2.0 percent
1.6 percent
Signs of heart disease.
Signs of cancer
Signs of breast cancer
Signs of stroke
Symptoms of Alzheimer's
Signs of diabetes

Explanation Notes On Above Table

1. Heart Disease: Despite the myth that heart disease is a man's problem, it is the No.1 killer of American women over the age of 65. If a woman has a heart attack, she is more likely to die than a man. This is because she is less likely to display classic heart attack symptoms (squeezing chest pain) and may not seek medical help soon enough as a result. For more, see our guide to heart disease in women.
2. Cancer: Lung cancer, largely caused by smoking, is the biggest cancer killer in women, followed by breast cancer and colorectal cancer. Nearly half of cancers can be found through self-examination and screening. It's worth knowing that the 5 year survival rate of early detected cancers is close to 95 percent. See, recommended female health screenings.
3. Stroke: More women die from stroke every year than men. In particular, they die from ischemic strokes. See, guide to stroke prevention.
4. Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases: These are conditions which affect the lower lungs and typically includes chronic obstructed pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Most of these diseases are caused by smoking. In recent years more women than men are dying of COPD.
5. Alzheimer's Disease: Alzheimer's disease affects memory and thinking skills. Symptoms usually only appear after the age of 60. See head problems.
6. Unintentional Injuries: These are accidental injuries which result in death. The main accidents that kill women are: falling, poisoning, suffocation, drowning, burns caused by fire and car crashes. Falls are of particular concern to older women with osteoporosis, see hip fractures. Accidental poisoning is significantly on the rise, largely caused by mistakenly taking high doses of prescription medications. This statistic does not cover suicide which is considered an intentional injury.
7. Diabetes: Gestational diabetes (diabetes that starts in pregnancy) can cause miscarriages and birth defects. The rise in obesity in women has been linked to increasing numbers developing type 2 diabetes later in life, which can lead to medical complications.
8. Influenza and Pneumonia: This mainly affects the elderly and pregnant women. See, flu in pregnancy.
9. Kidney Disease: Most common types of kidney disease that kill are nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis. Kidney disease is often a complication of diabetes.
10. Septicemia: Infection of the blood. This condition made headlines not long ago when a former Miss World finalist died after a urinary tract infection progressed to septicemia.

CAUSE OF DEATH BY RACE

The following is a list of the 10 main causes of death in American women, grouped by race/ethnicity.

Rank Whites Blacks Hispanics Native American Asian/Island Pacific
1 Heart disease
25 %
Heart Disease
25.2 %
Heart Disease
22.3 %
Cancer
18.8 %
Cancer
27.2 %
2 Cancer
22.1 %
Cancer
21.9 %
Cancer
22 %
Heart disease
17.4 %
Heart disease
22.3%
3 Stroke
6.7 %
Stroke
6.7%
Stroke
6.3 %
Accidents
8.8 %
Stroke
9.2 %
4 Chronic lower respiratory diseases
5.9 %
Diabetes
4.9 %
Diabetes
5.4 %
Diabetes
6.3 %
Diabetes
4.1 %
5 Alzheimer's
4.6 %
Kidney disease
3.3 %
Accidents
4.8 %
Stroke
4.9 %
Accidents
3.8 %
6 Accidents
3.6 %
Accidents
3 %
Alzheimer's
2.8 %
Chronic lower respiratory diseases
4.8 %
Influenza and pneumonia
2.9 %
7 Diabetes
2.6 %
Chronic lower respiratory diseases
2.6 %
Chronic lower respiratory diseases
2.7 %
Chronic liver disease
4.8 %
Chronic lower respiratory diseases
2.5 %
8 Influenza and pneumonia
2.4 %
Septicemia
2.5 %
Influenza and pneumonia
2.3 %
Kidney disease
2.6 %
Alzheimer's
2.3 %
9 Kidney disease
1.8 %
Alzheimer's
2.4 %
Kidney disease
2.2 %
Influenza and pneumonia
2 %
Kidney disease
1.9 %
10 Septicemia
1.4 %
Hypertension
1.9 %
Perinatal problems*
2.2 %
Septicemia
2 %
Hypertension
1.6 %

Notes On Above

* Perinatal problems: This refers to fatal problems that occur in the period just before childbirth (week 20 onwards) and immediately after childbirth. Problems that put the mother's life at risk include preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome.
** Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis make the top 10 list of killers for native American women. The most common causes of liver disease are long-term alcohol abuse and hepatitis C.

CAUSE OF DEATH BY AGE

The following are a list of the leading causes of death in American women by age.

Rank Ages 20-24 25-34 35-44
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Accidents
Homicide
Suicide**
Cancer
Heart disease
Pregnancy complications
Birth Defects
HIV Aids
Stroke
Septicemia & diabetes
Accidents
Cancer
Heart disease
Suicide
Homicide
HIV Aids
Pregnancy complications
Stroke
Diabetes
Birth Defects
Cancer
Accidents
Heart disease
Suicide
HIV Aids
Stroke
Chronic liver disease
Homicide
Diabetes
Septicemia
Rank Ages 45-54 55-64 65+
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Cancer
Heart Disease
Accidents
Stroke
Chronic liver disease
Diabetes
CLRD*
Suicide
HIV Aids
Septicemia
Cancer
Heart disease
CLRD*
Diabetes
Stroke
Accidents
Chronic liver disease
Septicemia
Kidney disease
Influenza & pneumonia
Heart disease
Cancer
Stroke
CLRD*
Alzheimer's
Diabetes
Influenza & pneumonia
Kidney disease
Accidents
Septicemia

*CLRD refers to chronic lower respiratory diseases.
** Suicide, read about the effects of depression.

Resources Used For This Article

CDC, Centers For Disease Control And Prevention.
The American Heart Association.

Additonal Resources

Vaccinations for women: Recommendations by different age group.

Other Useful Guides

A Woman's Body: Diagrams and pictures of the female body.
Checking Chest Problems: Check your symptoms, from breast pain to lung conditions.
Tummy and Abdominal Problems: Cramps, pains and changing bowel habits. Check your symptoms.
Back Pains: Upper and lower back problems, check your symptoms.
Skin Care Questions: Dry, sensitive or combination. What skin type are you?
Development of the Female Body: Physical changes from puberty to old age.
Hospital Departments Explained: How to find your way around hospitals.
Reproductive Disorders: Problems from spotting and bleeding to signs of gynecologic cancers.
Respiratory System: Breathing, why we breathe, and diseases of the respiratory system.
Bones Of The Body: What bones are and how they work.
Joint and Bone Problems: Check the causes of joint and bone aches.

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