COVID-19 was the third-leading cause of death in the country last year, according to the latest mortality report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week. 

Top 10 Causes Of Death

The latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) offered an overview of provisional mortality data for 2021 and a comparison of death rates for different causes of death. Based on data collected by the National Vital Statistics System, heart disease was the leading cause of death, followed by cancer in second place. COVID-19 was third on the list. 

Unintentional injuries, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and suicide completed the list of the top ten leading causes of death for 2021. 

CDC indicated in the report that the system’s provisional data were incomplete due to reporting lags for December. Furthermore, deaths that happened in the country among residents of U.S. territories and foreign countries were not included. 

The age-adjusted death rate increased by 0.7% from 835.4 to 841.6 per 100,000 standard population from 2020 to 2021. COVID became one of the most common causes of death within the year after recording 111.4 deaths per 100,000 standard population, or a total of 460,513 deaths. 

Demographic patterns of mortality were mostly similar between 2020 and 2021, but CDC pointed out that there had been shifts in death rates in certain populations. Overall, the COVID-19 death rate in people aged 85 and above remained higher than all other age groups, but it was lower than the rate from 2020. 

Highest Death Rate In Years

According to CDC, 2021 saw the highest death rate since 2003 due to the increments in the leading causes of death. The surge in unintentional injuries and the inclusion of COVID-19 inevitably caused a spike in death rates. 

Unintentional injury deaths were mostly driven by drug overdoses and the increased death rate in the younger populations. Meanwhile, even though the population of people above 85 witnessed a dip in mortality cases in 2021, the opposite happened to the age groups below 75. 

In a press release, the public health agency indicated that the latest figures highlight the need for strengthened efforts to implement effective interventions, especially during pandemic. The CDC noted that all communities should have interventions to prevent excess COVID-19 deaths.

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