CDC Researchers Call Attention to Unintentional Injury Deaths

"Fewer Americans are dying young from preventable causes of death," said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden, M.D., MPH. "Tragically, deaths from overdose are increasing because of the opioid epidemic, and there are still large differences between states in all preventable causes of death, indicating that many more lives can be saved through use of prevention and treatment available today."

The number of premature deaths that could have been avoided fell from 2010 to 2014 for three of the five leading causes of death in the Unites States, CDC reported recently, saying its researchers compared 2010 with 2014 to come up with that estimate.

In 2014, the five leading causes of death for people under age 80 were diseases of the heart, cancers, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases (CLRD, such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema), and unintentional injuries (accidents). Those causes accounted for 63 percent of deaths from all causes in 2014; CDC estimates 15 percent of those cancer deaths, 30 percent of those heart-disease deaths, 43 percent of those unintentional injury deaths, 36 percent of those CLRD deaths, and 28 percent of those stroke deaths were preventable.

The unintentional injury deaths stand out, however. Compared with 2010, in 2014:

  • Potentially preventable deaths from cancer decreased 25 percent (driven by a 12 percent decrease in the age-adjusted death rate from lung cancer).
  • Potentially preventable deaths from stroke decreased 11 percent.
  • Potentially preventable deaths from heart disease fell by 4 percent.
  • Potentially preventable deaths from CLRD increased 1 percent (a statistically nonsignificant increase).
  • Potentially preventable deaths from unintentional injuries increased 23 percent, largely due to deaths from drug poisoning and falls.

"Fewer Americans are dying young from preventable causes of death," said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden, M.D., MPH. "Tragically, deaths from overdose are increasing because of the opioid epidemic, and there are still large differences between states in all preventable causes of death, indicating that many more lives can be saved through use of prevention and treatment available today."

"These results are intended for states to better understand the national picture to help them improve local prevention efforts," said Capt. Michael Iademarco, director of CDC's Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services.

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