10 Leading Causes of Death in the U.S., 2003

Leading causes of death differ somewhat by age, sex, and race. In 2003, as in previous years, accidents were the leading cause of death for those under 34 years, while in older age groups, chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease were the leading causes. The top two causes for males and females—heart disease and cancer—are exactly the same. However, suicide ranked 8th for males but was not ranked among the ten leading causes for females.

Rank1 Causes of death All persons Causes of death Male Causes of death Female
All causes 2,448,288 All causes 1,201,964 All causes 1,246,324
1. Diseases of heart 685,089 Diseases of heart 336,095 Diseases of heart 348,994
2. Malignant neoplasms (cancer) 556,902 Malignant neoplasms (cancer) 287,990 Malignant neoplasms (cancer) 268,912
3. Cerebrovascular diseases 157,689 Unintentional injuries 70,532 Cerebrovascular diseases 96,263
4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases 126,382 Cerebrovascular diseases 61,426 Chronic lower respiratory diseases 65,668
5. Unintentional injuries 109,277 Chronic lower respiratory diseases 60,714 Alzheimer's disease 45,122
6. Diabetes mellitus 74,219 Diabetes mellitus 35,438 Diabetes mellitus 38,781
7. Influenza and pneumonia 65,163 Influenza and pneumonia 28,778 Unintentional injuries 38,745
8. Alzheimer's disease 63,457 Suicide 25,203 Influenza and pneumonia 36,385
9. Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis 42,453 Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis 20,481 Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis 21,972
10. Septicemia 34,069 Alzheimer's disease 18,335 Septicemia 19,082
Source: U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, Health, United States, 2005.

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