Trends in Cancer and Heart Disease Death Rates Among Adults Aged 45–64: United States, 1999–2017

May 22, 2019

Questions for Sally Curtin, M.A., Statistician, and Lead Author of “Trends in Cancer and Heart Disease Death Rates Among Adults Aged 45–64: United States, 1999–2017.”

Q:  Why are death rates from cancer dropping steadily over time and why are death rates from heart disease starting to rise?

SC: The death rates are a reflection of a few things—the prevalence of a disease, how often is occurs in the population, as well as its treatment and survival.  As this is purely a statistical analysis, others can speak to the trends in these factors.

Q:  You write that cancer treatments might contribute to subsequent heart disease for patients and might help explain the increase in heart disease mortality.  Which cancer treatments are contributing to this subsequent heart disease among cancer patients?

SC: The cardiotoxicity of cancer treatments is just one way that these two seemingly disparate diseases are related.  It is well known in the medical community that radiation and many chemotherapies can increase the risk of subsequent heart disease. In our analysis, we didn’t examine which treatments might be contributing to heart disease risk.

Q:  Which groups are seeing the biggest decline in cancer death rates?

SC: Non-hispanic black men, who have the highest cancer death rates, also had the largest percentage decline over the period at 34%.  In general, the percentage declines were greater for men than for women.

Q:  Which groups are seeing the biggest increase in heart disease death rates?

SC: Non-hispanic white women had a 12% increase since 2009 in heart disease death rates, the greatest of all groups.  In total, middle-aged women had a 7% recent increase compared with 3% for middle-aged men.  Another interesting finding is that Hispanic women, who had the lowest heart disease death rates of all groups, had a 37% decline over the period, the only group to experience a decline over the entire period.

Q:  Does this analysis suggest that cancer will not overtake heart disease as the leading cause of death in the U.S., which many have been predicting?

SC:  The focus of this report was on the middle-age population, and Cancer is the leading cause of death in the 45-64 year old population as shown in this report, whereas heart disease remains the leading cause in the total population.  While we do not make predictions about what data trends will look like in the future, it is safe to say that if the recent upturn in heart disease continues, it is unlikely that this switch will occur anytime soon.



Updated Provisional Drug Overdose Death Data: 12-Month Ending from October 2017- October 2018

May 15, 2019


Drug Overdose Deaths Involving Fentanyl, 2011–2016

March 21, 2019

Questions for Lead Author Merianne Spencer, M.P.H., Health Statistician, of “Drug Overdose Deaths Involving Fentanyl, 2011-2016.”

Q: Why did you decide to do a report specifically on drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl?

MS: Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is of interest to public health officials because of its increased involvement in drug overdose deaths and contributing role in the opioid epidemic. Understanding trends in drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl by demographic and regional characteristics can provide insights to better target interventions for populations at risk and to inform agencies working to combat this public health problem.

Q: Do you have any data that is more recent than 2016? 

MS: Mortality data for deaths occurring in 2017 are currently available for research use.  However, these data were not available at the time of the analysis for this study, and the text analyses required for preparing this report are time intensive.

Q: How did drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl vary by age, sex and race?

MS: The rates for drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl varied by age with the largest rates among adults aged 25-34 and 35-44. Exponential increases occurred in all age groups, with the greatest increases per year among adults aged 35-44, 25-34 and 15-24.

The rates for males and females were similar in 2011, 2012 and 2013.  In 2013, the rates for males and females began to diverge such that by 2016, the rate for males (8.6 per 100,000) was roughly 2.8 times the rate for females (3.1).

For race/ethnicity, non-Hispanic whites had higher rates than non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics for the entire study period.  However, the annual percentage changes were greater among non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics.

Q: Was there a specific finding in your report that surprised you?

MS: I was surprised to see how high the average annual percentage change in rates was for teenagers and young adults aged 15-24. While the death rate for this age group was not as high as the rates for persons aged 25-34 and 35-44, the average annual percentage increase in the rate was among the greatest, increasing an average of almost 94% each year from 2011 through 2016.

Q: What is the take home message for this report?

MS: The rise in drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl was noticeable in certain subpopulations and regions.  Overall, death rates, which were stable in 2011 and 2012, significantly increased from 2013 through 2016.

Death rates for males and females were similar in 2011 and 2012, but then diverged, with rates for males increasing faster than the rate for females starting in 2013. Non-Hispanic whites had the highest death rates; however, the rates for non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics increased at a greater pace than those for non-Hispanic whites.  All age groups had increasing rates, but the greatest increases were among those aged 15-24, 25-34 and 35-44.  There were also regional differences, with the highest rates and greatest increase in rates occurring in the East Coast and Upper Midwest regions.

QuickStats: Age-Adjusted Death Rates by State — United States, 2017

March 15, 2019

In 2017, the overall U.S. death rate was 731.9 per 100,000 standard population; rates varied by state.

The five states with the highest age-adjusted death rates were West Virginia (957.1 deaths per 100,000 standard population), Mississippi (951.3), Kentucky (929.9), Alabama (917.7), and Oklahoma (902.4).

The five states with the lowest death rates were Hawaii (584.9), California (618.7), New York (623.6), Connecticut (651.2), and Minnesota (656.4).

Source: National Vital Statistics System. Underlying cause of death data, 1999–2017. 

Dementia Mortality in the United States, 2000–2017

March 14, 2019

A new NCHS report presents data on mortality attributable to dementia. Data for dementia as an underlying cause of death from 2000 through 2017 are shown by selected characteristics such as age, sex, race and Hispanic origin, and state of residence.

Trends in dementia deaths overall and by specific cause are presented. The reporting of dementia as a contributing cause of death is also described.

Key Findings:

  • In 2017, a total of 261,914 deaths attributable to dementia as an underlying cause of death were reported in the United States. Forty-six percent of these deaths were due to Alzheimer disease.
  • In 2017, the age-adjusted death rate for dementia as an underlying cause of death was 66.7 deaths per 100,000 U.S. standard population. Age-adjusted death rates were higher for females (72.7) than for males (56.4).
  • Death rates increased with age from 56.9 deaths per 100,000 among people aged 65–74 to 2,707.3 deaths per 100,000 among people aged 85 and over.
  • Age-adjusted death rates were higher among the non-Hispanic white population (70.8) compared with the non-Hispanic black population (65.0) and the Hispanic population (46.0).
  • Overall, age-adjusted death rates for dementia increased from 2000 to 2017.
  • Rates were steady from 2013 through 2016, and increased from 2016 to 2017. Patterns of reporting the individual dementia causes varied across states and across time.

Updated Provisional Drug Overdose Death Data: 12-Month Ending from August 2017-August 2018

March 13, 2019


QuickStats: Death Rates Attributed to Excessive Cold or Hypothermia Among Persons Aged 15 Years or Older, by Urbanization Level and Age Group

February 22, 2019

During 2015–2017, death rates attributed to excessive cold or hypothermia increased steadily with age among those aged 15 years or older in both metropolitan and nonmetropolitan counties.

The rate for persons aged 85 years or older reached 3.8 deaths per 100,000 in metropolitan counties and 7.3 in nonmetropolitan counties.

The lowest rates were among those aged 15–24 years (0.2 in metropolitan counties and 0.5 in nonmetropolitan counties). In each age category, death rates were lower in metropolitan counties and higher in nonmetropolitan counties.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality Data 2015–2017.