Age and Cause

Leading Causes of Preventable Death by Age

The average number of preventable deaths in 2018 across all ages was 1,663. However, this average is far exceeded during the prime of life, from 22 to 67. Because preventable injury deaths often occur to young healthy people, many victims never have a chance to graduate college and start their careers, while others leave behind young families.

For teens and young adults, this is driven largely by motor-vehicle crashes.

Poisoning was the leading cause of preventable death for all ages, combined, for the sixth consecutive year and was the leading cause of preventable death for every age from 23 to 67. This is largely due to the opioid epidemic affecting millions of people in the United States.

On a typical day in 2017, 118 people died from preventable poisonings due to opioid drugs, accounting for 43,036 deaths in 2017. An additional 4,564 people died in 2017 from intentional opioid overdoses or overdoses where the intent was undetermined.

Deaths dip below the average between ages 68 and 78 before briefly spiking again, driven by older adult falls.

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Source: National Safety Council (NSC) analysis of National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) – Mortality data for 2018, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Rates are NSC estimates based on data from NCHS and the U.S. Census Bureau. See the Technical Appendix for ICD-10 codes for the leading causes and comparability with prior years.

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